Natchez hoops legend gives back

Published 4:26 pm Thursday, June 29, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Kids ran yelling with glee up and down the basketball court at Adams County Christian School as they played in the Je’Kel Foster Basketball League Tuesday. AC basketball head coach Matthew Freeman worked the scoreboard as he watched on from the baseline. 

He said Foster was a few years older than him but he remembers the Natchez legend and considers him to be one of the best basketball players to come out of Natchez. Foster played at Natchez High before going to Howard Junior College for a season. He transferred to Chipola Junior College with head coach Chris Jans, now the Mississippi State head coach, before going to Ohio State University. 

Foster went undrafted in the NBA draft but signed a contract to play overseas where he made a career playing in Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Venezuela, Spain and Angola. He still has the ability to play basketball showing off his dribbling skills and a smooth jump shot from the perimeter during breaks in play. He served as a referee, coach and organizer of the league. 

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“It is great to give back to the community. I was once a little kid growing up in the same area and I wanted to give back,” Foster said. “God blessed me to come back here and do this. It is right up there with my playing career. It means alot to see the kids learn and play. It is a great thing.” 

The kids range from second to eighth grade with boys and girls teams. Foster said he hopes to keep the league going until August so the children are able to improve their skills and understanding of the game. 

He wants them to have fun first and foremost. Exposure to crowds and playing in a high school gym setting will hopefully help them stick with basketball. Freeman said Foster will also help coach at ACCS this year along with new softball coach Savannah Buck. 

“It is a good thing what he is doing for the kids,” Freeman said. 

Games are on Saturdays July 8, July 15, July 22 and July 29  starting at 9:30 a.m. and the final matchup tips-off at 2:30 p.m. Playoffs are on August 1st and 2nd with the championship game played on August 6th. 

Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for kids five years or older. Kids younger than 5 get in for free. Foster said people can help the league by supporting it. 

“Just come out and support us. I want the community to see this and how we are highlighting the good things,” Foster said. “Mathew and I get along well. He is a good guy and we will try to push these kids and be the best we can. That is what I’m here for.”