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Katy Jordan junior Trae Gage, second from right, poses for a photo with officials from the Guatemalan national team.
Trae Gage’s young life so far has been one of adversity, perseverance, triumph and great potential.
The Katy Jordan junior point guard was adopted before he turned one year old. Hoops was his ticket of acclimation to a new country, family and home.
Later this week, Gage will play for La Federación Nacional de Baloncesto de Guatemala, the Guatemalan equivalent to USA Basketball, after earning a roster spot in March to represent Guatemala in FIBA Tournaments starting Tuesday and wrapping up Sunday.
The tournaments will be played Sept. 1-3.
“I’m super blessed to have this opportunity,” Gage said. “Super exciting. To go to another country and do what I love, it’s amazing to me.”
Gage was born in Guatemala. When he was nine months old, he was adopted by Tyson and Laura Gage and brought to the United States.
“He was just an infant,” Tyson said. “As such, he’s had dual citizenship.”
Basketball has always been the bond between father and son. Tyson put a ball in Trae’s hands when he was five years old.
“Basketball is just who I was,” Gage said. “I grew up with it and it’s always been a part of me. I know nothing else, really.”
Gage is a natural, gifted shooter. He led Jordan in 3-point shooting last year at a 41 percent clip, knocking in 22 of 54 attempts in 20 games. He credits Tyson for his consistent marksmanship.
Tyson put Trae through a plethora of shooting workouts when he first started playing. Three-point shots were prohibited. The focus was on foundation, form and fundamentals. Good balance, elbows in, follow-through, high arc.
Gage wasn’t allowed to shoot 3s until he was capable, physically, to shoot them appropriately.
“Shooting 3s was basically like shooting a midrange shot,” Gage said, “because all of my fundamentals were there already.”
\u201cMore college workouts\u201d — Trae Gage (@Trae Gage)
Last year, Tyson, to garner more opportunities in basketball for his son, contacted the Guatemalan Basketball Foundation and sent them Trae’s information. Coaches were interested. They brought him in for a tryout over spring break.
There, visiting his homeland for the first time, Gage played in club games with his age group. He scored 30 points. Then he played in an adult club league. He scored 28 points.
Then he practiced with the Guatemalan’s national team, where one skirmish left him with a black eye after being elbowed.
“It’s a different playing style there, so growing up and playing here in the States, my style is different and unique,” Gage said. “I think that made me stand out, as far as playing at a faster pace, how I could handle the ball, how I could score and create. They just liked what they saw.”
Gage earned his spot training with the national team and competing with them this week.
“I’m hoping to expand my game and get better overall,” Gage said. “Attacking the basket to score or kick out. Getting my teammates more involved. I want to come back better than ever next season and help my team be even more successful.”
Gage saw spot time last season for a Warriors team that was loaded with talented guards. Jordan went 21-11 in its inaugural year of varsity play. Gage averaged 3.6 points per game but started a few games and showed off impressive skills as a perimeter shooter and ballhandler.
\u201cBall handling\u201d — Trae Gage (@Trae Gage)
He is smart with the ball, a tenacious fullcourt pressure defender and owns a rapid-fire quick release with considerable range.
“I learned a lot,” Gage said. “Coach (Charlie) Jones is a great coach who always encourages me. I’m a good shooter, and he’d always push me to keep shooting. Being at Jordan just gives me so much more confidence because of the coaching. It helped me a lot, and in turn I was able to really help out my team.”
As a 5-foot-6 point guard, Gage knows positive perception does not lean his way, particularly him being Guatemalan.
“Being Hispanic, being undersized and not meeting the eye test, he’s constantly overlooked and underrated,” Tyson said.
Trae said none of that is his concern.
“I try not to think about it,” he said. “I don’t let it bother me. I’m aware I’m short and maybe not as strong as everybody else. But I’m just going to work harder and control what I can, just continue to get better.”
Makynna Robbins, LSA
AS THE SONG GOES … IT IS TIME TO REMEMBER THE NAME.
That name is Makynna Robbins, who will enter her junior year at Lutheran South Academy as one of the top basketball players not only for the Pioneers but a rising star in the private school world in the city of Houston.
In 27 games as a sophomore, Robbins averaged a team-leading 18.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. She also chipped in 1.9 assists, 2.9 steals and one block per game.
“I was putting in a lot of hard work and my teammates helped me out,” Robbins said. “I love basketball and it just clicked.”
The standout season earned Robbins a second-team, all-state nod and a first-team, all-district recognition as well.
It was in middle school that Robbins “really started putting in work” and at that point knew what it would take to be elite.
Her favorite player is Paige Bueckers, who stars for perennial power UCONN.
“I try to style my game after her. I love her a lot,” Robbins said. “She’s my biggest influence.”
So, what’s the encore?
“I’m just going to continue to put in hard work and working with my teammates so that the whole team can improve,” Robbins said.