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Anchors Aweigh

CMA’s John Starks inks hoops LOI with U.S. Naval Academy

Posted: April 24, 2013 4:17 p.m.
Updated: April 26, 2013 5:00 a.m.

When you play basketball and have the same name as a former NBA star, you get used to the questions as to if you are related.
Sooner or later, John Starks knew the question would come his way.
“Are you related to John Starks, who used to play the Knicks?” he was asked.
The Camden Military Academy post-graduate student laughed before the question was even finished. He had, indeed, been asked this many a time before.
“You have no clue,” he said when asked about the frequency of how many times that query comes his way.
This came after Starks signed his commitment letter to attend the U.S. Naval Academy via its prep school in Newport, R.I. As a service academy, Navy does not have letters-of-intent for student-athletes.
Now, going back to the name. John Starks is Starks’ dad and he played college ball. He is just not the man who played shooting guard for the Knicks from 1990 through 1998 and was an NBA player from 1988 until his retirement in 2002. And both John Starks have sons named John Starks Jr., as well.
In another parallel between the two, the CMA John Starks’s dad also played college basketball. He played at Franklin University in Indiana until a broken leg short-circuited his career. He then transferred to Indiana State University and was there during the Larry Bird years while earning his degree from ISU.
“He taught me how to play … he taught me everything I know about the game, really,” said the six-foot, 185-pound native of the Houston suburb of Katy, Texas of his father. “Some of what I learned, I picked up on my own. But he was there every day, breaking down film and dragging me to the gym, which helped me an awful lot.”
Starks played as a forward at James E. Katy Taylor High School in Katy, from which he graduated with honors in 2012. After that, he was looking for a prep school which would help raise his already solid SAT scores while giving him a chance to further showcase his basketball skills and draw the attention of more colleges. Starks found what he was looking for in CMA.
“It helped tremendously,” he said of the CMA experience. “I found out more about myself.
“I came here as a private and I am a second lieutenant, now. That means a great deal here. There are many things I love about the campus, the sports programs, the coaches, my teammates … the whole atmosphere is just great.”
In trying to prepare himself for the SAT, Starks said he would sometimes study until 4 a.m., that coming after three hours in the gym as he worked on his game. “I didn’t sleep a lot,” he said with a smile. “If I wasn’t studying, I was doing something basketball-related.”
During open gym sessions last fall, several college coaches made their way to the White Field House on the east Camden campus to watch Starks work out. Some of the schools which got involved in his recruiting process included VMI, Assumption College, Cedarville University, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and Navy.
As a young man who has aspirations of a military career, when Navy started showing an interest, Starks said he knew he had to pursue his two dreams of playing Division I basketball and serving his country; both of which could be addressed at the U.S. Naval Academy.
In his desire to become a member of the country’s armed forces, Starks said, he figured there was no better place to start than at CMA.
“No. I have a lot of military ambitions and I am very ambitious about it. I want to stay (in the military) for about 20 or so years, if I can,” he said when asked if he was nervous about enrolling at Camden Military Academy.
“And, Navy is, pretty much, my dream school. It was an opportunity that I didn’t need to pass up. I was on board (with attending the Naval Academy.) Then, later, I talked with my parents about it and they’re on board.”
As a member of Ron Horn’s Spartans, Starks was asked to play a dual role as he made his way between point guard and shooting guard. By the start of the season, he was selected as team captain by his teammates. In addition, he was a leader off the court as well, earning the faith and trust of his teammates and his head coach.
“The first thing we noticed about him was, as a young man, he was very polite, bright and respectful,” Horn said as to Starks’ fitting in with the program. “Those are the things that everyone here has noticed about him.
“He’s adapted to this program really well and has looked to improve himself academically, as a leader and as a basketball player since he’s been here.”
Starks did not get off to the type of start he wanted on the basketball court as injuries and illness hampered his court time early in the season. As the season progressed, he was displaying the type of skills which he brought with him from Texas.
“He set an example with his work ethic,” Horn said. “We tried to put the ball in his hands a little more than he had in the past because he had played small forward before he got to us. That gave him a little more experience with what he would get (playing as a guard) in college.”
Starks, who said Navy plans on using him primarily at the point, said he prefers playing the point and appreciated what Horn and CMA did for him in his one season as a Spartan.
“Being more confident in myself and being more confident in my abilities to play basketball,” he said when asked what the additional year of seasoning at CMA did for his game. “I was able to do everything before, but that helped with my confidence level.”
Horn said what Navy will get in Starks is a young man with an outstanding work ethic and who will follow instructions. “That will take him a long way in terms of the Naval Academy and on the basketball court,” he said.
On the court, Starks said that, at Navy, he wants to beat Army each time the two rivals play and, hopefully, meet former NBA star-turned broadcaster, Reggie Miller, and “have him talk about John Starks,” he said with a laugh.
“Off the court,” Starks said, “I want to become a better person; somebody whose full of knowledge, competent and who is willing to help out others whenever they see something occurring.”

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