Anson High School standout basketball player Diondre Pratt speaks to a group of kids at Family First's day treatment program on Wednesday, July 28.
Diondre Pratt, 15, a rising junior at Anson High School (AHS) and already a standout on the Bearcats basketball team, took a few minutes to speak with kids at the Family First day treatment program in Wadesboro on Wednesday, July 28.
Pratt was recently selected for a summer basketball program sponsored by ESPN at Walt Disney World. He spoke to the kids, ages 12-18, about sticking with their goals, athletically or academically, and keeping a positive attitude.
Pratt said he's currently playing three sports at AHS— basketball, football and baseball— and spends much of his free time, working out or practicing. "I don't have time to get in trouble," he said.
He talked about how some professional athletes have managed to get into trouble, either in the past or at present. He mentioned NBA star Lebron James and how he was punished in high school for his behavior, as well as pro football player Reggie Bush, who recently had all his records erased from the history books after a cheating scandal.
Pratt also reminded the kids that they should prepare now for any future goals. "I heard a couple of you say you want to be an artist," he said. "You can't just decide one day you want to be an artist and pick up a paintbrush. ... It's a mindset. You can't decide your freshman year you want to be an athlete and immediately be one. You should start now."
One student asked how to handle it when others pick on you for wanting to achieve your dreams. "When people tell you that you can't be anything," Pratt said, "that should encourage you to show them that you can. If you decide to turn your life around, you could end up being their boss one day."
He pointed out that Michael Jordan, considered by many to be the greatest basketball player ever, was cut from his high school basketball team his freshman year. He reminded the kids to stick with it and they can achieve what they want to achieve.
"People will bully you, people will talk about you behind your back," he said. "It just means you're ahead of them. I got people that talk about me but I don't let it bother me."
A student also asked about how much it costs to play basketball at AHS. Pratt said it did cost money, but he often takes on odd jobs for neighbors or family members to help earn a little extra cash. The class's teacher, Keith Moore, also pointed out that sometimes, even high school athletes can earn sponsorships to help them continue to play sports.
"You've got to have the right mindset," Pratt stressed. "If you want to play football, you've got to get up in the morning and go to the weight room."
He mentioned his teammate on the football team, Stephone Anthony, a rising senior who's already receiving a lot of attention from college recruiters. "He's been the biggest player in school since the seventh grade but that doesn't stop him from going to the weight room every day and continuing to improve."
Pratt also stressed the importance of academics. "Sports is an extracurricular activity; it's optional. School is not."
He added that he was thinking about sitting out of the football team this year in order to concentrate on bringing his grades up so he can attend his dream college, the University of North Carolina at Chapel HIll. He also pointed out that the kids should make themselves stand out to college recruiters or potential employers.
"If a scout comes to see someone else on my team," he said, "I'm going to make sure they see me, too and ask who's that kid, No. 5?"
He ended his talk by reminding the kids to keep their determination and a positive attitude.