By John Bombatch
XENIA — Xenia Buccaneers football coach Bob DeLong refers to them as The James Gang, and fans often think they’re brothers.
Fact is, Ray and Rocky James are second cousins, and they’ve already shown that they are two very talented high school basketball players.
As Bucs boys basketball coach Kent Anderson explains it, Ray’s grandfather and Rocky’s dad are brothers. Their uncle Roland played in Super Bowl XX as a defensive back for the New England Patriots.
“We’re happy to have them both, I’ll tell you that,” Anderson said. “Ray’s development as a point guard, with his work ethic and his strength, he’s a much different looking young man than he was last year at this time. And a lot of that translates to confidence on the court in his shooting.
“He’s taking the next step, and that’s where he’ll become the leader of this team from the point guard position.”
Ray James, the team’s 5-foot-11 junior point guard, led Xenia’s balanced scoring attack in the team’s season opening win over Beavercreek. He finished with 19 points. Rocky James scored 15 points, and led the team with six assists, in that 75-46 win. While they’ve only played one regular season contest thus far, the entire Xenia starting five — The James Gang, plus Samari Curtis, Ryan Johnson and Danny Naylor — is presently ranked among the top-20 scorers in the Greater Western Ohio Conference.
Anderson said he’s probably designed more plays around 6-3 senior guard Rocky James’ abilities than any other player he’s coached.
“Number one, because he makes good decisions with the basketball. He’s an excellent passer, and having he and Danny (Naylor), two of our best passers, on the court at the same time is a luxury that you don’t often have. Both are left-handed, which is kinda freakish in nature a little bit. That definitely helps, and Rocky’s hard to guard. He’s extended his range and has become a solid perimeter shooter, and he’s balancing that with a lot of rim attack.”
Both members of the James Gang were two-way starters for the Bucs football team this past season, but while Rocky gets his playing motivation from his uncle Roland as a defensive back (and Patriots fan), Ray says he favors basketball a little more.
“I try and emulate (former Duke University point guard and current Minnesota Timberwolves player) Tyus Jones and gear my game similar to his. I try to be more of a person to get people involved on the court. But if my shot is open, I’m going to take it,” Ray said.
Last school year was the first time the two James played together on the same team in any sport. Both seem to relish the opportunity.
“I wasn’t going to play football,” Ray said, “but I talked it over with my dad and decided to do it. I wanted to be on the team with Rocky, and for him to have a great senior season.”
Rocky enjoys being on the same team with his cousin.
“Everybody else calls us brothers, so I consider us brothers, too,” Rocky said. “I pick Ray up, and he gets going. He always listens to me. When he’s out of it, I do what I can to get him back into the game. It’s a lot of fun being on the same team like this together.”
Anderson says it’s been a lot of fun just having the James “brothers” together on what is turning out to be a solid team with a lot of potential.
“When I look at the lineage of the James family, when you talk about uncle Roland — and I played with Ray Ray, Rocky, all of them — they all brought something. I think I might be the only coach who’s gotten to coach two James kids at the same time, so I feel pretty fortunate in that respect,” Anderson said.
Xenia’s next game is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday when they’ll host Sidney.
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