It Takes A Villiage
Life is a lot about luck, even more so in a town with 24/7 slot machines in grocery stores. When it’s on your side, you’re invincible when it’s against you you’re vulnerable. That was supposed to be the case for Coach Paul Blair and the 2022-23 Spring Valley Grizzlies. In a span of a week, they lost their two top guards, and essentially any chance at 4A success. However, a funny thing happened on the Grizzly’s plummet to the bottom of their league… they didn’t. The cream rises to the top, and when the dust settled Spring Valley was once again in the penthouse, taking home yet another league championship. A lot of the credit goes to their Head Coach Paul Blair, however, you wouldn’t know it by talking with him.
“It was a great coaching job from my entire coaching staff” We had to peel back the onion, and keep each other together” “We motivated them every single day to stay together and they did”– Paul Blair
We….. In a nine-minute interview, the coach used the word we over 25 times, selflessly deflecting credit onto his staff and players.
“When I say we, I’m talking about everybody, it’s the teachers the principal, our coaching staff all the way to our athletic trainers and Athletic Directors. It’s a whole community thing.”– Coach Blair
It is that same mentality that allowed the Grizzlies to overcome adversity in 22-23 and has them poised to compete for another playoff spot in 23-24. That’s something that would have been difficult to fathom 9 years ago, but from the day the coach arrived he had a plan, and knew that turning Spring Valley Basketball into a respectable program, would take help from everyone. As the saying goes, if you want to get respect, you first have to give respect.
” We wanted to build a respectable program, and that all starts with respect, so I wanted our kids to know that they had to respect everybody in the building, not just me, but the coaching staff, their teachers, their familiy, everybody”.– Coach Blair
Now the tides have gone from giving respect to getting it and two of the Grizzly’s best players are searching for it this year. Jamison McCall is back after missing all of last season. He’s a physical guard, who is one of the best pure shooters in the state. Also returning is 2021-22 4A Player of the Year Alijah Adem, a legendary player who put together a season so magical, that he was the feature character of a best-selling book. They are joined by Amanee Ned, and Jordon Cosby, forming one of the deepest and most dynamic backcourts in the state. The former gained worlds of experience as first and second options a season ago.
Now a complete unit they look to finish the job that began two years ago armed with some new weapons to help them with the task. Caprice Brown and CJ Joshua have come over from Palo. The former gives them a good-sized offensive weapon with corner shooting ability. The latter is a rugged rebounder that provides interior depth. The Grizzlies even managed to take advantage of last year’s setback developing depth, while finding a couple of diamonds in the rough, in senior guard Kaleab Daniel and Ethan Shufford, who impressed the coach with their effort.
“I didn’t know that they could play hard like that“.– Coach Blair
Add in junior PG Olyad Mikas and the Grizzlies have a deep team full of hungry, experienced guys. With new expectations comes new competition as Spring Valley will make the move up to 5A this year. The coach embraces it all with excitement, knowing what he has coming back.
“I’m very excited to have Alijah and Jamison Back, because they have unfinished business” “With our four guards and our bench play, we’re going to be hard to stop”.– Coach Blair
Bruce Williams is an NCAA Certified Scout who covers basketball in Nevada.
He is a UNLV Insider for the Runnin Rebel Report.