Wheeling Central’s J.C. Maxwell Nominated For McDonald’s All-American Game
Senior Wants One More Shot At Title
WHEELING — Wheeling Central’s J.C. Maxwell has been around the game of basketball his entire life.
Since he was 2-years old, the all-state standout served as the Wheeling Central ball boy, dreaming of the day when it would be his time to shine in that Maroon Knights uniform.
Well, it is time.
Not only has Maxwell made a name for himself during his first three years at Central but he is now being nationally recognized for his athletic and scholastic abilities.
Maxwell was one of only two players from the state of West Virginia to be nominated for the McDonald’s All-American Game, along with George Washington’s Mason Pinkett.
There will be no game played this year due to COVID but just to be nominated for such a prestigious honor was a great moment in Maxwell’s career.
“I was definitely surprised,” Maxwell said. “Looking at some of the names on that list — there are guys going to Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky. I really appreciate that people think that highly of me just to be on that list.”
Maxwell led the Knights to the state tournament a year ago by averaging 14 points, six rebounds and three assists per game on his way to earning first team all-state accolades.
Although the state tournament was canceled before he had the chance to showcase his skills on the game’s biggest stage, the work he put in during the regular season didn’t go unnoticed.
“It’s nice when guys get rewarded when they work really hard,” Central coach Mel Stephens said. “He started out being our ball boy when he was like 2 or 3 and now it’s his senior year.
“This is a nice honor for him. This is not just for his play on the court but G.P.A. gets taken into account as well. They are not playing the game but if they would there would be some elite players going to big time schools like Duke and North Carolina. So, it’s just special for him to be nominated.”
The list of nominees will be cut down to 24 boys and 24 girls to make the team and Maxwell’s name is in the mix due to his will to succeed.
Following his standout junior campaign, Maxwell was determined to keep putting up shots in the offseason to prepare for one final run at the state title.
“I was lucky enough to get in the gym almost every day with the trainer,” Maxwell said. “With COVID going on, we could still get to the ‘Y’ or the Total Athlete Indoor Training Center and he was good at keeping me motivated or in the gym.
“Postponing the season might have been a blessing in disguise because I feel like I improved my game more than ever between the two seasons. I was able to attend some organized open gyms at The Highlands and with that opening up, we were able to play almost anytime — maybe three times a week to stay in basketball shape.”
That work ethic shown by Maxwell during the offseason is what makes him the leader he has become during the regular season and postseason.
“For the most part when guys become seniors, they realize it’s nearing the end of the road in high school and they take it upon themselves to be a leader because they know it’s their last shot,” Stephens said. “They do the things they need to do to get to the state tournament. J.C. has been able to get down to state as a manager and as a player so he knows what it takes. He’s really become more vocal.”
The Knights will make the jump this year from Class A to Class AAA in the new four-class system but Maxwell believes in himself and his teammates to continue to finish the job.
“I’m the most confident person you’ll find and I’m confident in our team,” Maxwell said. “Our whole team believes we can accomplish everything we want to. I know moving up classes will be a challenge but I know we can step up and show the state what we can do. It would be a great way to finish a career — with a state championship.
“Wheeling Central has been a big part of my life. I’ve been coming to practices with my pap since I was 2 years old. It’s been a great luxury growing up around the program and all the looks behind the scenes. I’ve been able to grow in the program and I understand everything the program stands for. I was on the team a few years ago that won the state championship but I wasn’t a big part of that. I’ve always dreamed of being a big part of a state title team.”
With the hard work put in and the season just around the corner, this McDonald’s All-American Game nominee just might get his chance.