The goal of every athlete is to get playing time and to have their efforts noticed, Jason Speaks was no exception. After playing college basketball, Speaks continued to play at local gyms and in pick-up games, watching hard-working athletes who were never getting the recognition they needed and deserved. As a result, Speaks decided he would help hard-working talent find a home. This thought grew from sharing local talent with his basketball friends in the business to having people call him and ask him to go take a look at students in certain areas and send back a report. Speaks saw hard-working juniors and seniors in high school who were never getting the recognition they needed and deserved, as a result, Speaks Basketball was born in 1999 to help these players whose talents were going unnoticed. Since the formation of Speaks Basketball, Speaks has provided a NCAA approved college coaches recruiting service, high school, college and junior college basketball news, hosted events around the world, offered both personal and team training, as well as nutrition services to basketball lovers of all ages and backgrounds.
Jason Speaks, a Franklin native, played for Springfield College and graduated from the University of Illinois. He now lives in Springfield and hosts basketball events ranging from small-scale camps and clinics all the way to large scale showcases and all-star games. Most of his smaller events, such as club team organizations, are held at Bradforton Athletic Center and Springfield Racquet and Fitness Center. Large scale events, such as showcases and all-star games, are held at MacMurray College and Illinois College in Jacksonville. But, his reach doesn’t stop in Illinois. Every year, Jason hosts a Caribbean Showcase in Turks and Caicos that features seven high schools and three days of games to showcase Caribbean talent. This event includes training sessions and evaluations of high school talent. Speaks emphasizes that the goal of the Caribbean Classic is to “secure scholarships for those kids to come and play in the states.” Speaks Basketball has provided opportunities and opened doors for basketball players all of the country and world!
Given his history of basketball and seeing unrecognized, highly-capable players, Speaks works to promote players on social media accounts. He provides pictures, statistics and information about players’ skills to give them their well-deserved recognition. Game reports and statistics are also posted on his Facebook (Jason Speaks), Instagram (@speaksbasketball) and Twitter accounts (@speaksbball).
This year, Speaks Basketball will host a Junior High All-Star Game on Saturday, March 10 at MacMurray College. This year’s game is a benefit game, titled “All-Stars versus Cancer,” all proceeds from the game will go directly to the Bill Poole family. Poole, the Jacksonville Middle School Basketball Coach has endured a long battle with cancer. The game will showcase top junior high talent from Downstate Illinois, nominated by coaches. Coaches from the surrounding area will serve as coaches of the 7th and 8th grade teams, one of the 7th grade coaches will be Jacksonville’s very own, Bill Gibson. Gibson says, “I am happy to be selected as the Coach of the All-Star Game. I have never done that before, so it will be fun. It’s nice to see the kids get some recognition that they need.” The other 7th grade coach will be Athens’ 7th grade head coach Aaron Janssen. In addition to the 7th grade game, 8th grade will be split into two games with coaches Tom May (Taylorville), Ryan Staley (Chatham Glenwood), Pat Bonjean (Franklin) and Wil Nickels (Peoria Calvin Coolidge Junior High).
Players from Jacksonville include 7th grade starters Tevante Jackson, Deone Salther and Elijah Owens. According to Gibson, Deone has improved so much compared to other players, Tevante has been an excellent player, the best 7th grader he has have seen and Elijah is a consistent player; all three play well together. The money that is raised at Coaches versus Cancer will be given to Coach Poole, Gibson says “I’m Glad to be a part of anything to help the Poole family. We hope to have a big and supportive crowd.”