BALDWINSVILLE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Our latest Byrne Dairy and Deli NewsChannel 9 Athlete of the Week has become a household name in the high school basketball ranks.
And he’s just in the 10th grade.
“I always been a competitor,” said J.J. Starling, Baldwinsville sophomore. “It could be anything. I could be playing a board game, I have to win.”
Whether its a board game, Starling’s favorite is Monopoly by the way, or the basketball court he has certainly done his fair share of winning in just three years at Baldwinsville.
J.J. passed the 1,000 point milestone in December, became the school’s all-time leading scorer in early January and has already received college offers from the likes of Washington, St. John’s, Siena and yes, even Syracuse.
“This has been a dream. A dream come true,” said Starling. “But, it’s been chaotic going through this whole process, knowing that schools are looking at you, knowing that you’re on their radar. It’s just a crazy process.”
“Its good to know hard work is paying off because as a kid, I been dreaming of playing at the next level and now that I’m getting looked at its a good feeling,” added Starling.
For his parents, Patrick and Satonya, this has all been a blessing.
“Through it all, we just thank God that we get to experience it and that he’s our child and we have a communication with him that we get to talk about it at home, about the whole process of everything,” said Satonya.
“I’m elated,” said Patrick. “Just to see him doing his thing and then being that he’s young sometimes that can go to your head but it hasn’t bothered him.”
“He’s staying focused, humbled,” added Satonya.
Both of his parents could tell he would be pretty good at a young age. He was always playing above his age group, from shooting a basketball as early as one year old or playing with fifth graders in second grade.
But, even they can still be surprised at what he does sometimes.
“I watch him and I’m in amazement,” said Patrick. “I’m amazed by it. Some of the things he’s doing and I’m like, ‘Wow, this kid is something special.'”
J.J. is the third of four children for the Starlings. His oldest brother is Tyler, followed by Donyai, then J.J. or his given name, Jonathan, and finally, his sister Janee.
J.J. won’t turn 16 until March giving him plenty of time to choose his college. His parents are leaving the decision up to him, since it is his future he is deciding on. They want him to pick the school he feels the most comfortable with academically as well as athletically. When it comes to his parents’ support, J.J. doesn’t downplay what it means to him.
“I’m lucky to have it because, without it, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I feel like I would be lost without it. They keep me grounded and they keep me motivated,” said Starling. “They’re my rock.”
Starling never needs much help with motivation, as he said he likes to win. So, when it comes to all future decisions about where he will play, that can wait.
He likes to live in the present and there’s only one thing on his mind right now.
“A championship,” said Starling. “We’re pushing each other in practice, we’re pushing each other in games, because we know that’s what it takes to be a championship team.”
Baldwinsville will take on Rome Free Academy on Sunday in the Class AA sectional semifinals. Tip time is set for 1:45pm at SRC Arena.