Sears, a Gardner-Webb commit, wants a state title in his final year of high school.
After every grueling practice, Buccaneers point guard Jordan Sears grabs a spare ball and walks to the top of the 3-point line at Mainland High School’s basketball gym. He shoots until he makes it, until he sees the ball rip through through the net.
Only then is he satisfied.
The memory of one particular miss haunts him. It’s what drives him to shoot this shot every single day.
By now, it’s been well reiterated.
In the Buccaneers’ Class 7A regional semifinal game against Auburndale on Feb. 26, Mainland was down 49-47. Sears, with the seconds ticking off the clock, dribbled the ball up the court and pulled up from the top of the 3-point line. His shot rimmed out as the buzzer sounded, and the Buccaneers were eliminated from the 2019 state playoffs despite a 27-2 overall record.
“I think about that shot every day,” Sears said. “I know when that time comes again, I’m going to be ready.”
Last season was Sears’ first at Mainland. He’d been with his previous high school head coach since he was a little kid. A former transfer from rival Atlantic High School in Port Orange, Sears fell in love with his new school, his new coaches and his new teammates.
“We’re so connected,” he said. “Everyone treats each other like family. We love one another so much.”
Sears was the Buccaneers’ leading scorer. Only now, however, in his senior season, is he the clear-cut leader of the team, which has its sights set on going deeper into the playoffs in head coach Joe Giddens third season at the helm.
Sears — a dynamic scorer, willing passer and aggressive defender — will play an important, if not the most important, role in achieving that goal.
Last season’s playoff loss, his first taste of the playoffs since his freshman year at Atlantic, made what he has to do to be successful a little clearer.
“I know what to do now,” he said. “I know how to lead my team a little bit better. Next time we’re there, we’ll be more prepared.”
Sears, who has played the game since he was 3 years old, has always played with a chip on his shoulder. He has giant aspirations for his basketball career. The first step was earning a scholarship from a university.
At first, he was worried he wasn’t going to receive any offers. However, he picked up his first offer this past summer from hometown team Bethune-Cookman.
But he was also extended an offer from Division I program Gardner-Webb. He visited the school’s campus in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and August and felt a familiar feeling.
“It felt like it does here at Mainland,” he said. “It felt like home.”
He’s been committed to the school for the past few months now, but he still won’t settle. The fire to succeed and push this team deep into the playoffs is still burning.
“You have to play like you want it more than anybody else,” Sears said. “Even now that I’m committed to a school, I still have that chip on my shoulder.”