When Sardaar Calhoun competed in the JA45 showcase in July, the Tappahannock native went in with a definitive plan.
The event takes place at Eastern Florida State College and allows 45 of the top junior college basketball prospects in the nation to showcase their abilities in front of NCAA coaches.
“I just went out there and competed, just played hard,” Calhoun said. “I wasn’t worried about my numbers or how much I wanted to score. I just wanted to show that I play hard.”
Calhoun’s approach paid off. He’s since received scholarship offers from East Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana State, Minnesota, Mississippi, N.C. State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and West Virginia.
He’s been training five days a week in Caroline County this summer with his cousin David Ware, a former Caroline High standout who also has major college aspirations.
Calhoun will return to Missouri State-West Plains for a final season later this month. Ware departs for Moberly, a junior college in Missouri on Friday.
The relatives will become Missouri Community College Athletic Conference rivals, but before then they’re sharpening each other’s skills, while Ware takes heed to Calhoun’s methods for catching the eye of major college coaches.
“We push each other to keep going harder,” Ware said. “It’s a more fluent workout because we have the same goals in mind. By him being my older cousin and already having a year at a JUCO I get a feel for how it’ll be when I get there.”
Calhoun, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound swingman, starred three seasons at Essex High before he transferred to Blue Ridge School, reclassified and completed his final two years of eligibility.
At Missouri State-West Plains last season, he averaged 17.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He shot 48 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point territory.
He and Ware are each working this summer to hone their ball-handling skills. Ware (6-foot-4) is aiming to become a point guard at the next level. After he was named Free Lance-Star player of the year as a senior at Caroline in 2018, he went on to attend Fork Union Military Academy for a postgraduate year.
“Dave and I have just been getting it in with a lot of reps, working on a lot of guard work,” Calhoun said. “I’ve been sharpening my skills. I think I’m a pretty good player but there’s always room for improvement. I can tighten up my handle and get more explosive, little things like that.”
Calhoun and Ware have worked with various trainers this summer. On Monday night at Caroline High, Ware’s father, Caroline JV coach and personal skills trainer David Ware Jr., conducted the drills.
They also receive video instruction from Caroline native Joshua Dudley who serves as an NBA skills developer with I’m Possible Training.
Ware was recovering from a groin injury earlier in the summer, so he spent a lot of time working on stationary ball handling. He’s also been focused on physical development and a more consistent jump shot.
“That’s another reason why I took the junior college route,” Ware said. “So I can become more of a fluent point guard on the next level … I feel like I’ve come a long way [with my ball handling] and what my coach wants me to be coming into the year.”
Calhoun said he doesn’t have any frontrunners for his services. He said he plans to orally commit sometime in October. He said he likely won’t take all five official visits that are allowed by the NCAA because that would delay the process and also take time away from his Missouri State-West Plains team.
He’s eager to show improved leadership next season and to battle with his family member and training partner. He said Ware has an “unpredictable” game, good footwork and “great upside.” He said Ware’s size will make him tough to defend at the guard position.
Calhoun said he’s thankful he and Ware connected this summer and he’s been able to share his experiences as a JUCO player.
“It’s very beneficial,” Calhoun said of junior college. “It all depends how you approach it and Dave is a very humble young man. He’s not one of those kids who think he doesn’t have to work for it. He’s already got that mindset. I expect a lot from him. He’s family and we’ve always held each other accountable. That means a lot.”