“Radar Contact” – Berkmar’s Jameel Rideout
By: Keith Agran
LILBURN, GA – The path to success is very rarely if ever a straight line. Twists and turns and new challenges face us all, and for Berkmar 2022 guard Jameel Rideout the line zig-zagged from South Cobb to Gwinnett County.
He’s taken some risks, made some tactical choices, as he pursues a next-level career in basketball, and I sat down with him for a chat about where he’s come from over the last 2 years and what he sees for himself and a Berkmar team that is loaded with other star prospects and will be playing the kind of schedule that will get them all monster exposure beyond the home market.
The full “Press Breaker” Podcast episode can be heard below, on your phone in the free Podbean app, or on Spotify or Amazon Music as well! Here’s an insider snapshot from my talk with Rideout, as we track his move from South Cobb HS to his senior year now at Berkmar.
On his experience at South Cobb HS his sophomore year with a 28-win, 6A Final Four team:
”Playing at South Cobb was of course one of my favorite years of high school so far. There was a lot of leaders on that team, lot of skill guys, every practice every day was fun in there. Had a great coach in there, Coach Moultrie, he pushed us every day. Overall, that year just taught me a lot, it got me a lot tougher matured me a lot mentally and physically, and just prepared me for where I’m at right now.”
It’s now March 2020, Covid begins to take hold, and no one knows whether there will even be summer basketball. But he still needed to make a decision on where he was going to play, and the well-known and respected brother duo of Charles and Michael Pack and Double Trouble Training was the choice:
“My Dad and Chuck and Mike (Pack) got in touch, they ended up coming to an agreement to let my Dad run the 1oth grade team at the time. We put together a pretty decent team, I think we were still one or two pieces away from really being one of the best teams in the state. But playing with those guys and that team, playing under my Dad, you get a decent amount of freedom, I got a lot of room to grow, I think it prepared me going into my junior year to lead a team such as Berkmar.”
On dealing with Covid and staying focused with his training:
“Training-wise, when it first hit, me and my Dad and little brother, we ended buying a basketball goal because we weren’t in the gym a lot. So we were outside on the basketball goal every day, we’d open up the garage, we had the Wave bar out there, we had the resistance bands, we were just getting after it 2 or 3 times a day, working out, pushing each other, just trying to stay motivated throughout the whole thing.”
On the choice of Berkmar after some reflection:
“At first we didn’t know where we were going to go. We knew that I wanted to come back to Gwinnett, better overall living situation, schooling situation for not only me but my siblings as well. We were just looking for a school that, one, had a good feeder program for my younger siblings, and two, somewhere I could play right away on a good team.”
The Berkmar choice was made a little easier by his decision before the end of the 2020 summer to move over to Team Huncho, an AAU spot where several of his future Patriot teammates were already starring.
On the ‘20-21 season, 25 wins and just one win short of a 7A title, dropping the final to Milton in a tough slug:
“When I first got here (Berkmar), it was rough. Guys had their own egos, their own personal goals that they wanted to have (that) year, guys trying to go out and get theres. We’d come into the locker room at halftime and guys arguing with each other, but practice, bonding, guys hanging out outside of practice, we all kind of got closer. Working through those things, putting our egos to the side, guys just stepping up in practice and being leaders, myself and a couple others, and as the season went and progressed we started to click and realize where we were trying to get to.”
Another AAU season looms in March 2021, and Rideout makes a big decision to leave Huncho and play the majority of the campaign with the Atlanta Celtics:
“Switching over to the Celtics I think was a smart move at the time, I still think it was a smart move. They brought me in like family, traveled a lot, they let me come right in and play and lead the team, they were looking for a leader at the time. My role was kind of the same, make shots, defend like you said as well, make plays for others. Playing on a circuit is always fun, traveling, staying in hotels, just learning overall, playing against some of those top names across the country, packed out sidelines. I loved the experience, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Coming off an ankle in the Battle For Georgia Final at LakePoint in July, he’s healthy and getting back to work despite Berkmar not playing in any organized Fall Leagues. But as mentioned, the Patriots are stacked again even after a bit of roster turnover, some faces out, but some new faces in:
“Definitely getting stronger, we play a national schedule (this year), we got to be ready to go play against these guys who already have college bodies. Getting stronger, getting faster, getting more explosive, knocking down shots, always trying to progress in those areas. Just build chemistry with this new group of guys, just staying locked in and focusing on the goals that we have for this year”
And lastly, On his recruitment, which includes offers from NC A&T and Charleston Southern at this stage, and interest from Tennessee Tech and Georgia Southern:
”Charleston Southern was the earliest (in the process). It was before my junior season, and NC A&T came at the beginning of this travel season. But throughout the summer a decent amount of schools reached out and came in to watch me play, now coaches are coming back to watch us workout, it’s been about 5 coaches that have come to see me workout.”
Keith Agran has lived in Georgia since 2011 and joined OTR as a National Evaluator in 2021. He previously scouted for Prep Hoops dating back to 2019 and has both a championship-coaching background on the HS-level and daily newspaper writing experience, both from New Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.