Mark Hudmon reflects on Valley stars in youth league

Published 10:09 pm Saturday, March 4, 2023

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Before guys like Brandon Thomas and Cam Dooley were 6-foot-4 or taller and dunking, they were at the Valley Recreation Center playing in the youth rec league while learning how to play basketball.

Valley Recreation Athletic Manager Mark Hudmon watched these champions grow up over time, and he remembers seeing something special back when they were in middle school.

“Ian Crim-Davis, Brandon Thomas and Cam Dooley came through the program and were probably our top players as far as being picked first,” Hudmon said.

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“We had them four or five years ago. Brandon was a big kid for that age group. He was well developed at 12. He could really shoot well. He dominated on rebounds. Cam Dooley was everything. He could handle the ball well. He could play good offense and defense. He was just a high scorer. Ian Crim-Davis was just a really good athlete that could score and play good defense and rebound as well. When we had those kids, you knew those were going to be the kids that could be special and do well throughout their career.”

Another player who went through the program is senior Kendall Parker.

“He was always a good little ball player,” Hudmon said.

“He played hard. He just unfortunately never grew. There was some good talent out of those boys who came through the program.”

Jamarious Martin and Denali Dooley didn’t take part in the program while Jay Harper was at Callaway before moving to Valley High.

This isn’t the end of the youth pipeline as Hudmon has seen things from both Thomas’ and Denali’s little brothers.

“Brandon’s little brother, Lauren Washington, is probably going to be a standout one day,” Hudmon said.

“After so long, you watch them play, and you can just pick out the talent.”

Hudmon has watched the current Rams grow into champions, and he enjoys seeing their success.

“It tickled me to death,” Hudmon said.

“I asked around today what the score was. I thought about going if the weather wasn’t good for softball, but I didn’t end up going. I’m just so proud of coach Harper and all the guys that help him. I’m proud of the staff. I think they’ve done an excellent job. Taking a team like that and going 33-0 is unheard of, especially for our area. They’re going to have a heck of a group coming back next year.”

Hudmon sees some of that same special talent in some of his kids today.

“I see it in some of them,” Hudmon said.

“Some of them will develop later. Some of them that I can be will be exceptional. You never know what will come out of them. They could go right or go left. You just see the kids who can do well in high school and possibly go to college. I guess it’s just exciting to see them and see what happened today. It touches you.”