All-County Boys Basketball: Creekside's J’Michael Plummer was destined to be a basketball player

According to family legend, J’Michael Plummer’s name and avocation were preordained.


His oldest sister, Elise, named him and knew he was a basketball player before their mom even knew she was pregnant.

Elise must have had some kind of power. Plummer helped lead Creekside to a 26-4 record, a district championship and a second consecutive regional final berth this season.

The junior point guard led the Knights in scoring (13.6 points per game), steals (2.9) and 3-point shooting (26 for 58 for 45 percent) and was second in assists (3.3) and third in rebounding (4.4).

He is The Record’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

“He’s the general out there on both ends of the court,” Creekside coach Will Mayer said. “He’s probably the best leader I’ve ever coached, and I’ve been saying that about him since he was a freshman.”

The praise for Plummer as a basketball player goes back much further than that. His mother, Ornett Jackson, said when Elise was in preschool and the family lived in Alabama, she began staring out of the back window one day and started clapping.

“I said, ‘Elise, who are you talking to?’ ” Jackson recounted. “She said, ‘Mommy, look, that’s my little brother, J’Michael, playing basketball.’

“I called my momma,” said Jackson, “and said, ‘You need to come down here and talk to your granddaughter because I think there’s something wrong with her, like seriously something wrong with her.”

But Elise continued to watch imaginary basketball games in the backyard, cheering for her imaginary brother. The family grew to accept Elise’s active imagination. Then, one day Ornett went to see a doctor believing she had the flu, and found out that she was four months pregnant.

“Five months later, on January 1, 2000, J’Michael was born,” Jackson recalled. “We named him in J’Michael. I was praying for a boy too, because I already had two girls.”

When Plummer was 2, his parents put a football, a soccer ball and a basketball in front of him.

“We told him to pick one,” Jackson said. “He picked up the basketball and has yet to put it down.”

Plummer said he became serious about basketball after fifth grade when he joined Xavier Hutchinson, now a football and basketball player at Bartram Trail, on the Jacksonville Tigers travel team. Back then the 5-foot-11 Plummer was taller and stockier than most of his peers and played power forward.

“Me and my AAU coach, we laugh at it now,” Plummer said. “Every year I gradually turned more into a guard. I got in the gym, got the ball handling down and the shooting came around eventually, and then everybody else started sprouting up, and I just fell into the position and found out that point guard was my position.”

He began his high school career as a wing player, but when the team’s two point guards both went down with injuries during Plummer’s freshman season, Mayer asked if he wouldn’t mind moving to the point. He’s been the starter ever since.

“He’s the one guy I really couldn’t take off the floor this season,” Mayer said.

The coach said the Knights’ loss to Class 4A runner-up Providence on Dec. 22 opened his eyes to how good Plummer can be.

“(Forward Caleb Townsend) fouled out way early in the fourth quarter, and J’Michael willed us back in the game, and with under a minute left he got a good look for a 3 that would have tied it,” Mayer said. “We lost by nine, but that game could have been a 20-point blowout.”

Plummer scored 18 points in that game and closed the season with games of 23, 24 and 25 points in the regional playoffs.

“It’s not that it’s all about scoring, but he really raised his game when it mattered most,” Mayer said.

He hit 8 of 11 shots, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range in the 62-61 overtime loss to Tallahassee Lincoln in the Region 1-8A final. Plummer scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. A capacity crowd at Creekside was silenced when Lincoln’s Tionne Rollins hit a jumper with two seconds left in OT to send the Trojans to the state tournament over the Knights for the second straight year.

“That game was big time,” Plummer said. “The gym has never been that packed. Going down 15 points and coming back, hearing the crowd having your back the entire way, that was great. So many of my family and friends came to see me. That was a blessing in itself. It just wasn’t our time to go to the state tournament.”

Plummer and fellow juniors Townsend, DJ Dumas and Noah Lippy have another chance to make it to Lakeland for the Final Four.

“One thing that’s a big misconception,” Plummer said, “is although we went to the regional finals two years in a row, I still feel there was a lot of growth from my sophomore year to the junior year, not just for me, but for the whole team. So I think that is something you can take from the season. So I’m keeping myself positive and that’s one thing I’m thinking about, making sure I’m not dwelling on losing that game too much. I had to make sure the other guys understood the same thing. Even for the seniors who are leaving, there are still things you can take from that game and use positively in your life moving forward.”

All-County Series

Saturday: Girls Basketball: Kiya Turner, Nease

Today: Boys Basketball: J’Michael Plummer, Creekside

Monday: Girls Soccer

Tuesday: Boys Soccer

Wednesday: Girls Weightlifting

Thursday: Wrestling

All-County Boys Basketball

First Team

Player of the Year: G J’Michael Plummer, Creekside, Jr.: The point guard averaged 13.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 3.3 assists and shot 45 percent from 3-point range in leading the 26-4 Knights to their second straight regional final.

F Sam Guenther, Nease, Sr.: The 6-foot-3 Guenther carried the Panthers this season, averaging 21 6 points and eight rebounds. He surpassed 1,000 points in his career against rival Ponte Vedra on Jan. 6 when he scored 26 points in a heartbreaking 55-53 home loss.

G Ryan Burkhardt, St. Augustine, Sr.: With the Yellow Jackets’ opponents all keying on him, the University of North Florida recruit averaged 16.6 points and hit 95 3-pointers. The 6-4 Burkhardt also averaged 4.0 rebounds and 2.2 steals and shot 83 percent from the free throw line.

G J.D. Pirris, Ponte Vedra, Sr.: The 6-3 point guard played only 15 games but averaged 17.1 points, 4.1 assists and 5.5 rebounds.

G Xavier Hutchinson, Bartram Trail, Jr. The 6-2 Hutchinson led Bartram Trail with 15.6 points per game, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

F Caleb Townsend, Creekside, Jr.: The 6-5 Townsend averaged 12.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and a team-high 3.7 assists.

Second Team

F Eston Hensley, Ponte Vedra, Sr.: The 6-3 Hensley averaged 12.2 points and a team leading 5.7 rebounds. He also led the Sharks with 50 3-pointers.

F Jahq Russell, St. Augustine, Sr.: The Yellow Jackets’ star running back averaged 12.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

G Bryce Comernisky, Bartram Trail, Sr.: The 6-1 senior averaged 13.6 points, a team-high 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

G DeMario Douglas, Menendez, So.: The 5-10 sophomore was the Falcons’ floor general and led the team in scoring at 11.7 ppg.

F Oratius Williams, Creekside, Sr.: The 6-4 transfer was a key addition for the Knights this season, averaging 8.3 points and 6.1 rebounds.

Honorable Mention

DJ Dumas, Creekside, Jr.; Jack Shannon, Ponte Vedra, Sr.; Tre Preston, St. Joseph, Sr.; Michael Dishmon, St. Joseph, Jr.; Luca Stauble, St. Augustine, Jr.; Lavarus Woodard, St. Augustine, Sr.; Anthony Wallace, FSDB, Sr.; Parker Webb, Bartram Trail, Sr.; Hunter Webb, Bartram Trail, Sr.; Matt Lawrence, Nease, Sr.; Addison Shaw, Nease, Sr.; Kenny Logan, Menendez, So.; Eric Sampson, Menendez, Fr.; J.J. Pinkney, Beacon of Hope, Sr.