published Friday, February 10th, 2012

Eighth-grade varsity basketballer: Craig

Like mother, like son is not normally the way the saying goes. But what Arts & Sciences' JaVaughn Craig is doing these days is not normal, either.

He's an eighth-grader starting on a high school basketball team. And it's not the norm that a boy's athletic mentor is also his nurturer.

"My mom was a good basketball player," Craig said. "She's the one who inspired me to play ball."

Mom is LaShandra Rivers, a former local player who's now an assistant coach for the CSAS girls' team. She put a basketball in her son's hands about the time he learned to walk.

Craig has since developed into a 5-foot-10 guard and an instrumental player for the Patriots. He scored 26 points in his first start, which was in December against Notre Dame.

Craig is averaging 8.9 points per game and has totaled 32 3-point goals, 21 assists and 15 steals in 20 games.

"One thing JaVaughn has that's a plus for him is a court prescence," CSAS boys' coach Mark Dragoo said. "He has an understanding of the game. He's played a lot of ball. Being able to perform under pressure is something you can't teach to an eighth-grader. He might get knocked down and pushed around, but he doesn't get rattled."

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or

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