Jason Gant is between classes so he doesn’t have too much time to chat. The Spanish final is next and he’ll likely slip into a triple-threat stance, then, either drive to the hoop with a spin-move or pull up for a mid-range jumper and knock that exam down and be on to the next.
Heck, Gant may even do what he’s been doing a lot of on the court recently: Drain a three-pointer. Contar los tres!
Through the first seven games this season, OPRF High School’s senior guard buried 10-of-13 shots from behind the arc. That’s not many attempts, no, but he rarely misses when he does take them, thanks to his many rigorous workouts during the offseason. Gant, who has played in OPRF’s basketball program all four years and emerged as a vital part of the varsity team’s starting lineup during the playoffs last year, is an honor roll student, a team captain, a motivator and a jokester.
“He does a little of everything for us and he only cares about how the team is doing, not how much he is scoring or playing,” said head coach Matt Maloney, who added that Gant’s sharp, sarcastic wit has his teammates — and, at times, his coaches — on the hardwood laughing.
As of this writing, the 6-foot-2-inch Gant has helped the Huskies to a 7-1 start. He is averaging nine points per game and has deflected well over a whopping 20 shots, which may have something to do with the person he says has been his biggest influence in his life. His father, Mark, holds the outdoor high-jump record of 7-feet-1-inch at DePaul University where in 2011 he was inducted into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Gant said he and his father workout together nearly every morning.
“We’ll either run or bike in the morning together, and on the weekends or in the offseason go up to DePaul’s Ray Meyer Fitness Center to shoot and work on transition baskets. He’s in pretty good shape for his age,” quipped Gant.
You get the idea the son would like to rib the old man a little more here.
But do you have to school him sometimes?
“Oh yeah,” he replied, laughing, “I do have to school him from time-to-time, but he holds it together pretty well.”
In his first eight games played this season, Gant, who is considering playing at the Division II or III level next year, cited the most memorable moment was likely OPRF’s 53-43 win in overtime against Hinsdale South.
“We didn’t play up to our potential, not at all, but we dug in and tied things up and pulled out the victory,” he said. “Even though it was an ugly, ugly win, it showed we won’t give up until they are shutting off the lights in the gym.”
It’s his constant energy and tenaciousness that sets Gant apart from his teammates. Maloney says his guard may not be the tallest or the quickest on the court but he makes up for it by out-playing everyone.
“He is one of our hardest workers, and a lock-down defender,” he says of Gant. “He has superb mental toughness and an intense motor.”
Not only does Gant physically leave it all on the court but he loves to be challenged mentally. His favorite subject is Math because he enjoys solving equations, which, he says, carries over to the court.
“Like many sports basketball isn’t just a physical game. You have to be mentally prepared and you have to think on your toes. I love that.”
He may also love to dance. Maloney says that after nearly every good practice, Gant will find himself circled by his teammates executing another unique jig.
“It gets everyone rolling,” says Maloney.