MT. VERNON —
Both Gamber and Fitzjerrells were approached about the AAU team. Gamber said he was familiar with the outfit from former teammate Kent Williams' high school playing days. Williams, Mt. Vernon's all time leading scorer, played for the Eagles toward the end of his high school career. Fitzjerrells participated in a tryout and made the team.
This offseason Fitzjerrells has had days where he participates in Mt. Vernon's open gym followed by an Eagles practice later in the evening. He said he doesn't feel the physical strain.
“As much stuff as I go to just makes me better,” he said. “I'm a kid.
“Kids have tons of energy, we can bounce back. It's not like we're old and we get really, really sore the next day.”
Gamber said Fitzjerrells' commitment to the Rams activities has been just as focused despite playing with the AAU team.
“Braden has not missed a summer event with us wether it be weightlifting, CrossFit, open gym, contact day, games,” Gamber said. “He comes to everything. He has really worked on his skill. So him playing with the Eagles is just that much better because he's getting to work on his skill.”
Even after a couple months of work with the team, Fitzjerrells said he notices changes in his play.
“I realized it after the first few practices,” he said. “My ball handling has gotten way better. My dad's even told me my ball handling's gotten tons better. Definitely my confidence has gone up.
“I'm ready to come back and lead the team to, hopefully, to a successful season.”
The Eagles travel to Augusta, South Carolina July 10-14 for the Nike Elite Youth Invitational.