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Union City’s J.D. Riley – Basketball Spotlight – Presented by BancFirst Union City

J.D. Riley had a high school basketball career worth remembering.

From starting his first game as a Union City High School as a freshman, to his first in-game dunk against Mulhall-Orlando (where he crashed the opposing team’s homecoming by flushing a jam on the king) to a near-40-point performance, it was certainly a journey.

Riley adapted quickly, but he wasn’t expecting to be in the starting lineup on night No. 1 of his varsity career.

“Before the game, coach never said I was starting, so when he told me to stay on the bench for them to call my name as one of the starting five, I was a little nervous, but as soon as the game got going, it felt natural,” Riley said. “I had ran with the first squad in practice a few times before the season, but that was about it.”

The game was fast but nothing Riley couldn’t handle.

“Playing against seniors that were smarter and knew the pace of the game was different. Also playing for more minutes, if not the whole game, was about it. I feel like after just a few games, I was set and comfortable,” Riley said.

His groove came to him naturally, but he was never more on than he was in the Binger Tournament his senior year. He scored 39 points and hit a halftime buzzer-beater.

“I just felt like I couldn’t miss,” Riley said. “Once I got in a groove like that, it’s just a big boost going forward.”

Riley hit three 3-pointers on consecutive possessions at one point in the game, to which his teammates erupted in celebration. He had several stretches where he went for 20 or more points over the course of multiple games, so it was nothing new for him to have a big scoring night. But a night that big — Riley didn’t even know what he had just done.

“To be honest, I didn’t even realize [I had 39] until I got subbed at the end of the game. Someone said how many I had and I was shocked,” Riley said. “All I could think of was shooting really good.”

Riley says he wouldn’t change any of it, “especially the memories and the teammates and fans God blessed me with.”

If he has the opportunity to do so, Riley hopes to play at the next level; if not, he plans to pursue a trade like welding or linework.

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