Dailey’s sibling rivalry

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 25, 2004

John Dailey describes himself as a normal guy who likes to play basketball.

His calm, quiet demeanor makes him a likeable young man with his coaches, teammates and classmates.

However, Dailey’s charm is a bit deceiving. Off the court, he is personable and enjoys talking about the game he loves.

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On the court, however, Dailey turns into an entirely different person. As the top scorer for the Selma High School Saints, Dailey is an uncompromising competitor, bent on winning a state title.

Dailey says a handful of people helped instill in him the drive to win. The one person, however, that has really been an influence on Dailey’s young basketball career has been his sister, Johnnie.

“She taught me the game of basketball,” Dailey said. “Most people don’t have a girl teach them the game of basketball.

“People ask who taught me,” Dailey added. “When I tell them, they don’t believe it. Sometimes I don’t believe it, either. I can’t believe she’s the one who showed me how to play the game.”

Knowing his sister was his hardcourt mentor may be a tough pill for Dailey to swallow, but what makes it even more difficult is knowing his sister is a 1993 graduate of rival Southside High School.

“She gives me a hard time every time we play them,” Dailey said. “She has two different Southside shirts. She’ll be all in front of me, holding her shirt and telling me they’re going to shut me out and that I’m scared of them. I’m not scared of anyone on the court.”

That fearless attitude is ever-present whenever Dailey steps onto the hardwood. His willingness to not only hustle, but put his body on the line for every loose ball, every rebound and every basket have him and the Saints hoping for big things this season.

“We’ve made mistakes in the past few games, but we just need to play more aggressive team ball,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to go all the way to the state championship.

“I think we’re good enough to get that far,” Dailey added. “If we keep working hard, if everyone keeps working hard and plays as a team, I think we’ll make it.”

The Saints took a step towards that goal this week with the addition of a 3-2 trap defense. The new strategy has helped the Saints acquire more transition baskets from steals. The Saints seem to enjoy playing in the new style, but what does big sister think of it?

“She doesn’t care what kind of defense we play,” Dailey said, “as long as we play defense.”

Although no college basketball scholarships have been offered to the six-foot senior point guard, Dailey holds out hope that someday soon someone will recognize his talent and give him that opportunity to play at the next level.

“I’m not disappointed,” Dailey said. “I’m just waiting. I’m sure something will come up later.”

For now, Dailey’s desk at home is loaded with common applications to attend several schools. Some of the schools who want him to attend their campuses include Mississippi State, Kentucky, UAB and Troy State.

“If I don’t get any offers, I’ll go as a walk-on,” Dailey said.

For now, Dailey’s focus is winning a state title. Beyond that, little else matters right now – not even college.

“It’s a tough choice,” Dailey said, “but if I had to choose between a college scholarship and a state championship, I’ll take the state championship. This is my last year. It would be great to finish with one.”

And big sister would be so proud.