High school sports take a whole lot of time and energy from the hours spent outside the gym and field to being at peak performance to game time—in addition to normal school work.

Seventeen-year-old Reese McMullen’s motivation goes way beyond that of a typical high school athlete. A junior at Christian Brothers High School, he not only has been on the varsity basketball team since freshman year, but he has worked to be in the top percentage of his class and serves as the academic chairman on the Brothers Leadership Council.

His love for basketball came before his love for achievement. “There is a home video of me as a baby holding a basketball bigger than my head, so yeah I have been playing for as long as I can remember,” Reese says. Of all the sports he tried as a kid, it was basketball that stuck.

He started off playing for Idlewild church and at elementary school. As he got to be more competitive in middle school, he joined an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) team, the Junior Grizzlies based out of Desoto County. 

Reese credits the AAU league for getting him where he is today. “It made me realize I was not the best player, and that was good for me. Basketball was not just me and this little bubble at my school. I had to find new ways to score and really show how I could be effective.”

When high school decisions rolled around, Reese chose Christian Brothers. “When they told me about the accelerated De La Salle program, I knew it would set me up for where I wanted to go in the future. Then, I just had to see if I fit in with the team.”

From the beginning, Christian Brothers instilled a strong work ethic within him. The summer before he started, Reese started training with the varsity team. “They kind of threw me into the fire. You had little 14-year-old me playing with 17- and 18-year-olds.” He admits it was extremely tough, but it prepared him well for the following years. 

Eventually, colleges started taking note of Reese. He got his first offer from Lipscomb University in Nashville last summer, which is a feeling he’ll never forget. “The first offer is always special because it is the first coaching staff and school that believes in you enough to invest in you financially.”

He has also received an offer from Dartmouth after attending a basketball camp there. “That was my first Ivy League offer, so it was super exciting.” Other top schools have shown interest in him, and Reese says he’s giving all his offers serious consideration.

It’s the time and effort he’s put into the game that has made Reese a success. “Everyone wants to be good, but not everyone is willing to put in the work. Playing with the varsity team really taught me what it meant to give it everything you’ve got. Balancing school and basketball has prepared me for life and a college athletic career.”

By Chloe Webster
Photo by Tindall Stephens