Making of a Marksman

Part I: Bucks' Redick became tireless shooter at young age

J.J. Redick

Jonathan Clay Redick is best known to basketball fans by his nickname, “J.J.”

There may be folks in the neighborhood of Redick’s boyhood home, however, who will remember him as “The Lawnmower Man.”

Such a moniker would be appropriate considering the extremes to which Redick has gone to become as proficient at shooting a basketball as he is today.

Redick’s road less traveled leads to Roanoke, Va., where he was home-schooled until he switched to public school in fifth grade. Even before he reached 10 years old, there didn’t seem to be enough daylight to accommodate his marathon shooting sessions at the basketball hoop in his yard.

So he became inventive.

“We didn’t have outdoor lights, so I put our lawnmower at the top of the key, got an extension cord and took one of my dad’s lamps and attached it to the lawnmower so it would shine in the goal,” Redick said. “I couldn’t shoot 3s from the left corner because there was a branch in the way. It had a gravel and dirt court, and there were some uneven spots, but that’s where I did a lot of my shooting.”

Redick doesn’t remember his neighbors ever “encouraging” him to call it a night, probably because he was so intently focused on his target.

“I’d be out on that court for hours,” he said. “When I was home-schooled, I was the middle child of five, and we were all home-schooled at the time, so it was pretty easy for me to sneak away and get outside and play. I’d finish my work as soon as I could and then go and shoot for hours.

“I did fifth grade twice because I was super young. I didn’t want to be a 9-year-old sixth-grader.”

Redick was ahead of his time as a shot-maker as well.

His quest to excel and his competitive fire were stoked by his siblings. His older twin sisters, Alyssa and Catie, only began playing the sport at the age of 13, but earned Division-I scholarships and played for four seasons at Campbell University. They have a younger brother, David, and a younger sister, Abby.

JJ watched his twin sisters’ progression in the sport and decided that he, too, would earn a D-I basketball scholarship. He was relentless in his mission.

He not only made the varsity basketball team as a freshman at Roanoke’s Cave Spring High School, but averaged 17.1 points per game, then upped his average to 23.3 ppg as a sophomore.
His numbers continued to escalate.

During his junior campaign, he made a string of 61 consecutive free throws and averaged 28 points, 6.7 rebounds and four assists while shooting .570 from the field, .440 from 3-point range and .910 from the free-throw line.

As a senior, Redick averaged 28.3 points, made 99 3-pointers in 22 games, and went out on top, scoring a career-high 43 points in leading Cave Spring to a 70-62 triumph in the Virginia Class AAA state championship game. He set Virginia AAA state tournament three-game records for most points (111) and 3-point field goals (20). He finished is prep career as Virginia’s all-time leading AAA scorer with 2,215 points.

Redick was named Virginia’s Gatorade Player of the Year for a third time, was honored as 2002 Virginia Mr. Basketball and was the 2002 Associated Press Virginia Player of the Year.

Redick won the Most Valuable Player award in the McDonald’s All-American Game after scoring 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting (5-of-6 from 3-point range) and won the McDonald’s boys 3-point contest. He was one of six first-team prep All-American among all classifications by recruiting guru Bob Gibbons, and he also played on two national champion AAU teams with the Boo Williams All-Stars.

Dating back to his days in junior high school, Redick imagined himself playing for Duke University during his shooting sessions in his yard. He played the whole Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament there. And Duke won every time.

Following his prolific high school career, he realized his dreams. He was one of four 2002 McDonald’s All-Americans to sign with Duke.

Redick averaged 15 points per game during his freshman season with the Blue Devils – the fourth-highest average for a frosh in the program’s rich history. He converted .919 of his free throws to rank fifth in the country and led his team in 3-pointers made with 95.

His numbers – even his free-throw percentage – went up during his sophomore campaign as he averaged a team-high 15.9 points a game, knocked down 102 treys and ranked second nationally in foul shooting at .953, making 143 of 150 shots. He became only the fifth player in Duke history to reach 1,000 career points.

Redick boosted his production substantially as a junior, averaging an ACC-leading 21.8 points while shooting .403 from 3-point range and .938 from the line. He became Duke’s 12th ACC Player of the Year, was the ACC tournament MVP and was named a first-team All-American by AP, USBWA, NABC, The Sporting News, ESPN.com, SI.com, Rupp, Basketball Times and Collegeinsider.com, among others. He was chosen the 2005 Rupp National Player of the Year.

Redick averaged 26.9 points, shot .421 from 3-point range and .938 from the foul line during his senior campaign and became the all-time leading scorer in Duke University and ACC history with 2,769 points, which ranked 16th in NCAA history.

He set an NCAA record for career 3-pointers made with 457 and finished second in NCAA history in free-throw percentage at .912. He was named ACC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American for the second straight season, repeated as Rupp National Player of the Year and was also named Wooden, Naismith and Association Press Player of the Year.

By the time he reached 22 years of age, Redick had accomplished much more in the game of basketball than most players have ever dreamed of.
But he wasn’t finished yet.