Author: Kevin Waltman
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Price: $ 11.95 (Paper)
Kevin Waltman teaches at UA in Tuscaloosa now but played his high school basketball in Hoosierland, the center of basketball madness in America.
“Quicks” is the fourth and final young adult novel in the series “D-Bow High School Hoops.”
D-Bow is Derrick Bowen, an African-American kid at Marion East High School in Indianapolis, and the narrator of this series, which has taken him from his freshman year, trying to make the team, to his sophomore year, so good he was being courted away by a prestigious prep school, to his junior year, during which he had great success and started receiving a lot of interest from major basketball schools: Alabama—where, Derrick reports to his friends, the coeds are the cutest, Michigan and of course I. U., right down the road in Bloomington.
Derrick and his family live a constrained but honest and respectable family life in their little house and the scholarship is more than welcome; it is necessary.
The future was looking real good, but stuff happens, a lot of it, and it all weighs on Derrick.
During his junior year Derrick had surgery to repair his ACL, which cooled the college offers down and has caused him to worry about whether his knee will hold up. He has some girl trouble, as a teenage athlete/hero well might. Derrick’s beloved Coach Bolden retires suddenly, leaving the team feeling bereft.
His lifetime best friend Wes is running with a drug crew, and his Uncle Kid has behaved stupidly and gotten arrested and is now living on the family couch.
In fact, Derrick’s Indianapolis neighborhood is not all that safe. It’s not Chicago, but he stays off the streets at night.
Also, Derrick’s mother, 38 years old, is pregnant and rather grumpy about it.
Even with all this, Bowen is listed in the top ten players in the state, 6’ 4 ½”, 192 pounds, a seasoned veteran. His position seems secure but is rocked a little when Darryl Gibson shows up. Gibson is also a point guard and a very good one.
He has “quicks”: that is, short, sudden bursts of great speed.
I am assuming that young adult males who read this novel will know the language better than I do. I’m not a baller; I don’t play hoops. I just learned as I went along, the way you would do in a foreign country. The ball itself is a rock, a pill, an orange.
Derrick narrates the story—his personal life and the team’s struggle to make the state playoffs. He is a sensible, articulate young man who notices what is going on around him. Naturally, a lot of the book is play-by-play, and engages the reader, even an septuagenarian, pretty well. I am sure teenage boy ballers love it.
On the serious side though, Waltman shows us Darryl learning what is important and what is not.
He helps his mom care for his baby sister, Gracie, leads his team without becoming a complete egomaniac and struggles with temptations—bribes offered by unscrupulous colleges for example. Darryl becomes a man, an honorable responsible adult.
Don Noble is host of the Alabama Public Television literary interview show “Bookmark with Don Noble.” His most recent book is Belles’ Letters 2, a collection of short fiction by Alabama women.