As part of our effort to bring maximum value to players and coaches, Lead ‘Em Up will begin sharing a montly player and program spotlight.

We believe some of the best learning takes place from our peers. Think about it, some of the best stuff you get at coaching clinics comes from your fellow coaches. Athletes learn just as much, if not more, from their peers during the season.

One of our major goals at Lead ‘Em Up is to create a community of coaches and players who can share with, and learn from one another.

We are proud to spotlight Jao Ituka.

Jao is a sophomore at Gaithersburg High School in Maryland.

How has becoming a leader helped you as a player and has helped your team?

“Becoming a better leader has helped me a lot because I’ve become a better teammate and I’ve become more helpful and encouraging for the other guys. I’m able to help lift them up on the court and I’m able to help guide and make sure everyone is improving and getting better.  Most important is that we’re all moving towards winning.

What is something you do now that you didn’t much of 1-2 years ago as a leader?
“I call and text my teammates all the time.  I try to get them to meet up at the gym and ball.  I encourage them to work and get better.  I’m always telling them to continue playing hard to help the team and be the best they can be.”
Was there an exact moment you remember where your mind shifted?  When you said, it’s time for me to step up as a leader?
“Yes, it was during my freshmen year of high school basketball.  All the time in our Lead ‘Em Up sessions, along with my coach pushing me, I really realized that this year I play a very big role as a leader and captain.  I realized now was the time to take that step.”
What drives you to be a better leader? 
My desire to become the best player I can be.  I want to make it to the NBA because that’s my goal and dream ever since I started playing ball and that itself pushes me and fires me up to work hard every day and become the best player in Maryland and in the country.  Being a leader will help me reach all those goals.
From his coach: “What has been the biggest transformation you’ve seen in Jao?” 
“His ability to persuade his teammates to join him in workouts, in the gym and carrying themselves with class in school.  He gets on his teammates now and will push them and drive them.”
Coaches and players, if you have an athlete deserving to be spotlighted please send us a message letting us know why this person is deserving. Please send all nominations to: [email protected]