PITTSBURG — For as long as Pittsburg Middle School student Jordan Fudge can remember, his dream has been to play in the NBA.
While many kids aspire to become professional athletes when they grow up, Fudge isn’t a typical 13-year-old.
Standing at 6 feet 3 inches, Fudge spends a majority of his time outside of school traveling the country to compete in leagues with some of the best players in the world at his age.
“Basketball really means alot to me,” Fudge said. “It’s always been my passion and I hope to be an NBA player someday. I played football a lot when I was younger too, so I really didn’t know which one I wanted to go into, but I finally decided to really get into basketball in about the third grade. Although, I wasn’t very good at the time. I was taller than the other kids, but I had to work hard to get better. I put in a lot of hours on the court to get to where I’m at.”
Fudge is in the beginning stages of what will likely be a long journey, but his family will be alongside him every step of the way.
“Jordan started trying to play when he was two years old,” Fudge’s mother Sommer Bishop said. “At the time, he looked like he was about four years old, and from that point on, I just couldn’t get the basketball out of his hands. I knew this was something he liked, but I had no clue that he was going to be as good as he is. I’m super proud.”
Throughout the summer, Fudge travelled to Oakland, Los Angeles and Las Vegas to play in several leagues exclusive to highly-skilled players.
Fudge came back to Pittsburg with five MVP awards and five championship trophies.
“It was nerve racking, but my coach just kept making me work at it and I ended up winning MVP,” Fudge said. “I worked a lot on my shooting, ball-handling skills and post-up game. It was an all-around workout while I was playing in those leagues.”
Although it could be easy to attribute Fudge’s success to his height at first glance, his work ethic is what sets him apart from the rest in nearly every league he competes in.
“Once Jordan got the hang of the game, he dedicated himself 100%,” Bishop said. “When he went to California, I was nervous for him. I told him that he was going up against some kids who really knew how to play and I wondered if he would actually be one of the shorter players, but he had success.”
Fudge stands above most kids in the local area, but he can’t rely on his size alone to be successful every game.
“I’m tall compared to most of the kids going up against me, but I like to shoot more,” Fudge said. “I like to use my ball-handling skills and play point guard when I can. I like to do that more than posting up because it keeps the game going at a faster pace.”
In preparation to play against kids of similar size and ability, Fudge spends several hours a day working to get better in every facet of the game.
“Coach Kiley Roelfs has pushed me in practice and I also worked a lot by myself,” Fudge said. “He has really been the person that helped me along the way to this point. Playing under his coaching at the middle school has definitely made me better and I hope to go on to win a state championship when I’m in high school.”
There’s been a lot expectations put on Fudge for him to go on to do great things in the city of Pittsburg and beyond, but the many accolades he earned on the court hasn’t affected who is as a person off the court.
“I always tell people he has a chill attitude off the court,” Bishop said. “When he’s on the court though, he shows his passion. That switch turns on and the passion takes over. He takes charge out there and it’s great to see. I’m very proud of him for who he is on and off the court. He has his days, like every kid does, but I’m very proud of him.”
For now, playing in the NBA is just a dream, so Fudge plans to stay the course and enjoy the ride.
“I think the older he gets, the more his dream is going to become a reality,” Bishop said. “There are times we’ll be driving down a street and I’ll see a nice car that I like, and he always says he’ll get it for me when he makes it big. He tells me that he wants to be able to help me and help his sisters since I’ve been takin care of them. I believe in him 100%.”
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.