Trae Bell-Haynes may be a grade 11, but he can run the Beep Test in almost 14 minutes.
The multi-stage 20-metre shuttle run is used to test an athlete’s peak oxygen uptake, and for the first-year senior cager that’s a sign of aerobic dominance on the hardwood.
However, the 16-year-old is reserved when discussing his feat.
“He’s pretty humble but he played 40 points against (a team coached by Michael Jordan) this past summer,” his coach Bryan McAlpine says about his point guard’s Grass Roots Amateur Athletic Union basketball appearances.
To McAlpine, both Bell-Haynes’ on-court presence during a 6-4 Red Knights season, and in-class performance make him a star.
“Trae can play at the next level, he’s that good,” McAlpine said. “But what differentiates him from other kids is his work ethic.
“I mean there’s a lot of kids with a lot of talent, but right now Trae’s working hard towards his goals and it shows,” he added. “What he does in the classroom is mirrored on the floor and in the gym.”
Inside the Northern gym, Bell-Haynes admits he’s still learning to be a team leader.
“I’m still working on it because I’m playing under Givon (Luxmore) and Thane (Murray),” he said. “They’ve given me a lot of instruction, telling me what to do, so I still have a lot to do to get better at being a leader on the court.
“Since it’s my first year playing senior, I just have to play smarter, little tricks here and there to beat my man on defence as well,” he said. “It makes it easier to have someone who’s been through it all helping you.”
Also in his corner are his parents. His father Greg Haynes is a personal trainer, and won’t let his son slip into idleness.
“Even if I’m being lazy he doesn’t allow me to be lazy,” he said. “In that way it’s better because I’m not sitting around doing nothing.”
When not looking up to his senior teammates or looking to his father to maintain tip-top conditioning, he turns on the television to watch Chicago Bulls fans be entertained by his favourite player: Derrick Rose.
“He’s the most exciting player,” Bell-Haynes said. “He has one of the best teams, but talent wise, he doesn’t have one of the greatest teams either.”
Of course he’s talking about role players like Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, but Bell-Haynes adds the Bulls somehow beat teams with more depth than them.
The Bulls of today’s basketball are akin to Northern’s team, who goes unnoticed in a division that includes perennial basketball winners Oakwood and Eastern Commerce.
As for playing against the Barons and Saints, there’s only a little excess energy.
“I was kind of nervous but I guess I’ve played basketball long enough to be able to eliminate being nervous and try to get ready for the game,” Bell-Haynes said. “It’s because it’s my first year playing senior that a little bit of anxiety was there before the game.”
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