By Art Garcia | @ArtGarcia92
ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington men's basketball coach Scott Cross announced the signing of DeMarco Bryant to a national letter of intent on Wednesday.
Bryant, who goes by DJ, plays point guard at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla. The 5-foot-11 playmaker is a four-year member of the varsity team and is entering his senior season.
"He's going to make us better and our leadership is going to skyrocket because of him," Cross said. "I expect him to be a guy that can help lead the team even as a freshman. He's probably going to be one of those guys that will be one of the hardest working guys on the team from day one and that's going to make us better. I'm super fired up about him, and can't wait to get him here and start coaching him."
Bryant averaged 13 points, 9 assists and 5 steals as a junior at Riverview. Bryant's career at UT Arlington will begin with the 2016-17 season.
"It's a blessing," Bryant said. "This a day I've always dreamed about, worked for and prepared for. To go on to college is a huge honor in my family. No one has ever gone before and I'm trying to break cycles. I'm blessed for the opportunity God has placed before me. I love everything about UTA, and I'm excited to get up there and get going."
Bryant played for Riverview coach BJ Ivey and AAU coach Aaron Holmes for Team Speights, which is sponsored by Golden State Warriors forward Marreese Speights.
"DJ is a prime example of a student-athlete," Holmes said. "This kid sports a higher than 4.0 GPA. He's an extremely hard worker and just a great kid. I've had in my program since he's been in the eighth grade. Anyone who meets this kid has an immediate response to him. He's a special a young man. He comes from a tough upbringing, but he's humble. He's going to be a CEO one day. I'm not even talking about basketball, he's going to be a success in in life one as a man.
"He's very respectful and does everything that's asked. He's going to give 120 percent for the University of Texas at Arlington. If he trusts you and you give him an opportunity, he'll run through a brick wall for you. He's a take-the-stairs kind of kid. He's a leader and a pass-first point guard. He's a true, true, true point guard."
Bryant was named to the all-tournament team for the Suncoast Holiday Tournament, all-area honorable mention and Prep Hoops Florida Player of the Week. He's a National Honor Society member, president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and chosen to be on the Sarasota County Superintendent Student forum.
"DJ is a remarkable young man who has had a huge impact on our community, school, basketball program, and student body," Ivey said. "He is the hardest working person I have ever been around. His drive and passion are truly remarkable.
"DJ is the kid who goes to the Salvation Army and passes out food that he paid for. He is the first kid in the gym, usually at 6 a.m., and the last kid to leave in the evening. He will undoubtedly have an outstanding career at UTA and leave a lasting impression on everyone he comes into contact with."
Cross and his staff first learned of Bryant through former UTA assistant coach Reggie Brown, who is also Bryant's uncle. Brown sent Cross film of Bryant and the recruiting process began immediately.
"I really liked what I saw from him and during the summer time I sent [assistant coach Kenneth Mangrum] up to watch him play," Cross said. "Coach Mangrum called me and we had about a 15-minute conversation about how this kid possesses every attribute that we preach to our guys."
Cross traveled to watch Bryant compete and was sold on the complete package.
"We have some great leaders on our team, but I would say DJ, as a high school kid, is the best leader that I've ever seen in summer basketball," Cross said. "He's talking the entire game, directing his guys, telling them what's coming. He's super positive. His character is off the charts.
"I went to the high school in the fall and everybody said the same thing: he's the best kid ever, he's the hardest worker ever, he's going to leave a lasting legacy at the program. You can't replace what he does. As I'm watching him work out, if he was supposed to 40 pounds for a set of 10, he would always go a set of 11. That's just the kind of kid he is. He goes above and beyond."
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