Hightower – the unsung hero for Mustang basketball
By Kyle Salomon,
Mustang senior forward Geoffrey Hightower is entering his final year at MHS with high expectations for himself and for his team.
With highly recruited teammates such as junior guard Jakolby Long, junior guard Curtis Heywood II and junior forward Austin Meyer, Bronco boys hoops doesn’t lack any star power, but Hightower takes a backseat to no one when it comes to team leadership.
The 6-foot-6 post player said he has been working hard this summer to improve his overall game as well as playing with his AAU team, the Oklahoma Wizards.
“I want to improve my leaping ability,” he said. “I want to become more explosive off the floor. I also am working on improving my ball-handling skills and my quickness.”
Hightower said he knows and respects his role on the team.
“First and foremost, I want to be a leader on the team,” he said. “I want to be a guy that encourages my teammates and pushes them to be at their best all the time. I am counted to go inside and give a lot of energy in how I rebound, play defense and my overall hustle.”
That style of play is exactly what another power forward in this state does for his team down on the low block. That player, who resides in Norman and plays for the University of Oklahoma, is Ryan Spangler.
Spangler and Hightower are similar players in the way they approach the game and the way they use their bodies to push opposing players around in the paint area.
Hightower said he agrees with the comparison to Spangler.
“I like it,” he said. “I’ve gone down to OU and watched him play several times. He’s a guy that gives full effort all of the time. He never takes a possession off. He defends and rebounds with a lot of intensity. He’s not worried about the numbers he puts up or anything like that. That’s the way I like to play.”
Hightower averaged 10 points and nine rebounds last year for the Broncos, which is a solid year for high school basketball, but he said he expects more out of himself this upcoming season.
Hightower has traveled to numerous places throughout the summer competing in AAU tournaments, trying to improve his game and be seen by college recruiters. The MHS senior has played in St. Louis, Texas several times and Arkansas.
With the majority of the roster coming back and getting Heywood back from having to sit out last season, this Bronco squad is one of the favorites to win the 6A state championship next March.
Hightower said it’s important for the team to play together if they are going to achieve their goals.
“We need to listen to our coaches more,” he said. “We don’t need to try and play one-on-one. We need to talk more on the court and put the team first. We are all good friends off the court, so we talk a lot about what we can do to win a state championship.”
Mustang head coach Terry Long will enter his third year as head coach for the Bronco boys basketball program. Earlier this summer, Long was addressing his youth summer camp at MHS and told the campers of all the guys on his team he would draw up a play to win the game in the final seconds, it would be Hightower. Hightower said playing for Long is a great honor.
“He gets everything out of you,” he said. “He pushes you to be the best you can possibly be. He’s done so much in this state in high school basketball and for him to say that about me is truly an honor.”
Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org