After playing his first home game at New Mission High, it didn’t take long for Juwan Gooding to realize he wasn’t in the suburbs anymore.
“Milton is a good school and all but the basketball team has no school spirit there,” said the sophomore who transferred from Milton High said after the Titans packed the house New Mission's first home game.
“Here, you have more spirit. Everyone comes to watch your games," Gooding said. "It’s fun and it's exciting.”
In his first home game last month against Burke, Gooding was rattled by the boisterous crowd at the school's new facility in the Hyde Park complex. But the lefthanded point guard has settled in nicely since.
Through the first six games of the season Gooding is averaging 17 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals per game for the Titans (4-3). Besides a 79-70 road loss to Brighton, New Mission has only lost to Christ the King (N.Y.) and Windsor (Conn.) in holiday tournaments. Gooding almost hit a buzzer-beater to send the game against Windsor into overtime.
In fact, he has settled in so quickly after his first home game that he put up 23 points against Charlestown the next night, scoring New Mission's first 11 points of the game. He had five three pointers in the 87-60 victory.
“That kid can shoot, he can shoot it from on the line, beyond the line, great shooter, and he’s going to hurt a lot of teams with that jump shot,” Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso said after the loss. “He reminds me of [my former player] Ronny Fernandez a little bit.”
As a freshman at Milton High, Gooding was a Bay State League All-Star scoring 19 points per game before Gooding and his father, Santiago “Pumpkin” Gooding decided to move to Dorchester and transfer him to a Boston school.
The soft-spoken 17-year-old with dreads tipped in red coloring says he feels more comfortable at New Mission than he did at Milton.
“More competition, more people of my color, my background and stuff,” he said. “It’s a pretty good atmosphere; kids having fun.”
His father said he liked the academics at New Mission.
“Honestly I want to say the competition is a little more tougher but that’s pretty much it,” said the elder Gooding, who coaches in the Boston Neighborhood Basketball League and AAU. “Academics for New Mission are just as good as Milton. … We decided to get him the same type of education but the [quality of basketball is] also why he came over to New Mission.”
The basketball is pretty good at New Mission, too.
New Mission lost in the first round of the Division 2 North tournament by a point to Arlington last year but won back-to-back state championships under coach Cory McCarthy the two previous seasons, first in Division 4 and then in Division 2.
“It wasn’t even really about Cory, it was more so the academics,” the elder Gooding said. “It was more so the academic piece and the academics were good, solid. I looked at their curriculum and I looked at Milton’s curriculum. And actually New Mission's curriculum they offered more honors courses, their curriculum was a little bit better than Milton’s so all around it was a win-win situation for him.
“Cory is definitely a good guy. He puts in a lot of work with the kids and he doesn’t just care about basketball. He cares about life after basketball, too.
As for McCarthy, he said more than anything he is impressed by Gooding’s penchant for defense and desire to win.
“He’s a smart kid,” McCarthy said. “The kid has major game. He bought into what we’re trying to do and he compliments those other guys, [Shaquan Murray] and those other guys and he fit right in. He didn’t come in trying to be a star. He’s not trying to be a star. He wants to win and I respect that.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
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