Pirates forward Wendell Powell overcame an ankle injury last season, and hopes to lead the Pirates to a district championship this season.
When Wendell Powell was a baby, his father gave his son a pacifier when he was crying. But it wasn’t just any old pacifier: It was a basketball pacifier. Powell has loved the sport ever since.
When he entered seventh grade, he finally began playing organized basketball through the Flagler County Police Athletic League. As a freshman at Matanzas High School, Powell was picked for the junior varsity team, but halfway through the season, he was brought up to varsity, and that’s where he is today.
Down but never out
For most high school athletes, junior year is the most important in regard to college recruiting. For Powell, it wasn’t so simple.
He had a great start to the season last year, and was garnering looks from Division 2 and Division 3 schools. About this time last season, in the final practice before the Pirates were going to take a break for the Christmas holiday, Powell suffered an ankle injury.
He stole the ball from a teammate in practice, but then ran into another player and broke his ankle. His junior season was over.
“It came as a big surprise,” Powell recalls. “That was my first major injury. It was more mental than anything because I still have that experience in the back of my head.”
Powell was able to overcome the injury, though, and is averaging 17 points and nine rebounds so far as a senior.
“Wendell has been a key part of the MHS basketball program for four years,” said coach Tony Zaksewicz. “He has offensive explosiveness, and he has the ability to get to the rim off one or two strong dribbles, with the strength to finish in traffic.”
Powell said he was able to dunk in eighth grade, when he was 5-feet, 8-inches tall. Now, the 6-foot-4 senior likes to model his game after Kobe Bryant, and that includes slamming it on opponents.
“Dunks give good momentum and energy,” Powell said.
Powell said he will continue to have to improve his defense and work on driving the ball in hopes of playing in college.
“He’s a great kid off the court, and one of the nicest, well-mannered young men I’ve coached,” said Zaksewicz, who has coached Powell for all four years.
Zaksewicz said Powell owns a nearly 3.7 GPA, and does dual-enrollment at Daytona State College.
And Zaksewicz summed up what Powell brings to the Pirates on and off the court.
“All the other players look up to him, and he paves the path for us,” he said. “When it’s crunch time, they look for him, and his demeanor on the court carries us.”
Powell will do his best to carry the Pirates to a strong finish. There’s a good chance there will be some dunks along the way, too.
Name: Wendell Powell
School: Matanzas High School
Stat: 27 — career high points in a game