JJ Russell drove the baseline toward the hoop, faked going up for a shot, tucked the ball under the basket to avoid a defender, got fouled and converted the reverse layup. He made the free throw to complete the three-point play.
It showed the pure athleticism of the Collinsville Christian Academy senior guard in the first quarter of a Jan. 29 game against Tower Grove Christian School.
Russell finished with 17 points en route to a 62-47 CCA victory. But not a single college coach was there to witness. College coaches are never in the stands to see Russell.
"Sometimes I look at the people in the area that are going to, I guess you could say, good schools, big schools," said the 6-foot, 185-pound Russell. "Coming from this school, I really don't get any exposure because we play all Christian schools.
"You might have somebody at Belleville West or East get looks from big schools. My name doesn't even get brought up because they have no idea who I am."
Collinsville Christian Academy, with approximately 100 students, is a kindergarten through 12th-grade school with a Christian curriculum. Russell, now 17, started at CCA in fifth grade. His sister Jerrica is a junior at CCA and his brother Deontis is in the third grade.
Jerrold Russell, JJ Russell's father, is a minister at a church in East St. Louis. He moved his family from Ferguson, Mo., to East St. Louis so they could be closer to the church.
It was important to Jerrold and Sharon Russell to enroll their children in a Christian school.
"You'll never be able to shelter a child forever," Jerrold Russell said. "If (my wife and I) could prevent them from some of the things that could go on in a different environment, we sold out to the Christian education the way we thought was best to raise them."
While Jerrold Russell would have liked his son to play against bigger schools and better competition, he said he wouldn't trade the Christian education for that.
JJ Russell is scoring nearly 21 points and averaging three rebounds per game. The lack of competition causes college coaches to look over him, but CCA head coach Tim Gallion believes JJ Russell could perform at a higher level.
"His skill set and his strengths would translate to anywhere he played," Gallion said. "He probably wouldn't score as much, but with his ability he'd be able to find people and get more assists than he does here.
"If he were at a bigger school where the defenses are a little bit tougher, he'd still be able to get his shots, but he'd be a lot more of a distributor."
JJ said one of his biggest motivations is his father sitting courtside at every game cheering him on.
"I love when he's on the sidelines," JJ said. "He can calm me down when I get too mad or whatever it might be. He's there to stop that. Also, he's my number one fan and critic. By the time I get home, he tells me everything I've done wrong. He's completely honest with me. You take it to heart. Other people might just say that you played good tonight and leave it at that.
"He's also the loudest person in the gym wherever we go. He's bound to get thrown out at least once or twice a year."
If JJ plays at the college level, Jerrold Russell will be there cheering on his son, no matter how far away it might be.
"I would like to go to a school, it doesn't matter to me where, and still scream for my son," Jerrold Russell said. "Since I know that's what he really wants to do, my wife and I support that."
JJ said he has a standing offer to play at Lindenwood University-Belleville, but he is waiting to see if a bigger school offers him a spot on a team. Jerrold Russell lost his job at Hostess after 14 years, so he's hopeful his son's basketball ability will help with scholarships to pay for school.
JJ's 3.8 grade point average also may help him obtain academic scholarships, too. He also plays soccer (scored 44 goals last season) and baseball for Collinsville Christian Academy, but playing basketball is a priority for him.
"I want to play basketball in college because that motivates me to keep my grades up," JJ said.
What does he do when he's not on the court?
"I'm out shooting in the backyard, talking about basketball or watching basketball," JJ said. "For me, it's sports, church and school. If I'm at home and have no homework, I'm watching whatever basketball game comes on TV. My Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, I'm at church.
JJ is the leader of his Collinsville Christian Academy team and averages nearly six more points a game than the next highest scorer. He could see a more limited role for a college team next year wherever he ends up, but it only motivates him to do better.
"The way I've always been, I don't like sitting on the bench," JJ said. "If I have to because you want me to get a little bigger or work on something, that's fine. You best believe whoever is in front of me I'll be working on that spot. That's my goal and I'm going to get it. I like to play, and I don't like to sit. Whatever it is, I'm going to work on it."
Whatever college JJ plays for next year, it will be a bigger stage than the small Collinsville Christian Academy. Maybe he'll finally get noticed.