Every team has one or two of them; guys who live in the gym and focus non-stop on the game of basketball. They are known as gym rats.
Meet Carson High juniors Tez Allen and Jayden DeJoseph, two of the best gym rats in Northern Nevada. It’s an aberration when they don’t have a ball in their hands, and they have been instrumental in helping the Senators to a 22-5 record this year. DeJoseph averages 13 points a game and Allen averages 11 a game.
The two have known each other since third grade, and they went through the Carson City Little League program together, and both were all-star performers. After that, both turned their attention to basketball. Not only do they play at CHS, but they also play for the Wolverines, a travel team based out of Reno.
“I’d say at least 340 days,” DeJoseph said when asked how many days he plays basketball during the calendar year. “I take a week, maybe two off at the end of the season and maybe another in the summer after club ball.
“After Little League, baseball wasn’t something I wanted to do. Basketball is my true passion. I grew up around the game, and that helped.”
It certainly didn’t hurt.
DeJoseph’s mom, the former Jennifer Gray (now Jennifer Minifie) played on two CHS state championship teams in the late 1980s under Alana Williams. Gray went on to play four years at Kentucky. Jayden DeJoseph’s brother-in-law, Jeremiah Gray, is an assistant on the CHS staff. He played four years at Reed and then two years at Cuesta College. Paul Gray, the longtime Reed coach, is Minifie’s uncle.
Allen, who estimates he spends about 300 days a year playing basketball, didn’t come from a basketball family.
“My dad grew up overseas and he was into cricket,” Allen said. “My mom was into softball. My dad put me into basketball with Kyle (Krebs, current CHS teammate). We were neighbors. They have supported me in whatever I wanted to do (in sports).
“Ever since I was little, though, basketball has been my favorite sport. Once I started travel ball, I fell in love with it. I tried baseball again during the summer (as a sophomore), but I wasn’t into it. I don’t regret my decision at all.”
On any given day in the summer, you might find Jeremiah Gray, former CHS star Rafe King, Allen and DeJoseph in the CHS gym. And, DeJoseph works out in Reno with a personal trainer.
Specialization isn’t something that happens a lot, and most coaches at Carson prefer their athletes play other sports.
“We do a good job of sharing athletes here at Carson,” CHS coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “We encourage kids to be multi-sport athletes. It’s certainly better here than it used to be. Jayden and Tez chose not to (play another sport).
“Certainly the more time you spend on a sport the better you’re going to get, but I think playing another sport helps too.”
Current basketball players Asa Carter, Jace Keema and Ian Schulz are all three-sport varsity athletes. Kyle Krebs, Taylor Saarem, Connor Quilling and Sevon Mandoki are all two-sport varsity athletes.
“I know that is not what you’re supposed to do, but Jayden wants to get to the next level,” said Jennifer Minifie.
And, playing club basketball is the best way to get a college scholarship. Summer showcase tournaments attract a boatload of scouts. Coaches rarely have time to recruit in person, unless a player is local, because they are busy coaching their own teams.
DeJoseph said playing for Garry Hill-Thomas and Kevinn Pinkney have helped him considerably. Both players were part of Nevada’s run of making several consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. They, more than anybody, know what it takes to play at the next level.
“I think Division II, but I’m still working toward my goal of Division I,” DeJoseph said. “I shoot it pretty good. I think I’m a good perimeter player, but there is still much to learn. I’ve been working hard on my speed and ballhandling.”
“Jayden did all the right things in the off-season,” Mendeguia said. “I think he could be a step-out 4 (power forward). He is physical enough to guard a 4. Trying to guard a 1, 2, or 3 might be tough. You will play as high as a level in college as you can defend. Jayden is a good shooter. I’ve told him often that he needs to be more selfish. I think he defers too much at times. He is a team player.”
DeJoseph has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor as evidenced by his recent 3-point shooting in a come-from-behind win over Galena recently. He also can post up and score from the inside.
Allen is Carson’s second-best defender and usually draws the best front-line player, and he can score the ball well in the key. He also can bring the ball up the floor, taking pressure off starting point guard Jared Rooker.
“I’d like to play somewhere,” Allen said. “I’ve heard a little bit from Loyola Marymount and a couple of other schools have talked to my parents. Hopefully I’ll have a good rest of the season here and play well in the summer.
“I kind of pattern myself after Tyron Criswell (from Nevada). He’s not big (6-3), but he plays small forward and shooting guard. I’ve been working on my quickness and improving my outside shot. During the summer, we play a lot more up tempo where you’re playing five out (all five players outside) and attack the basket and shoot 3s. That helps a lot (my outside shooting). I play a lot of 1-on-1 with Rafe in the summer.”
Mendeguia has been pleased with Allen’s rebounding and defense this season.
“Tez is more of a gifted player than Jayden,” the CHS coach said. “Jayden has worked really hard to get where he is. It has been more natural for Tez, who can turn it up when he needs to. Tez has a good inside game.”
And together, they have helped Carson win a Sierra League championship and become one of the top teams in the state.