Myles’ hot shooting sparks Vikings
Niles North's JJ Myles steals the ball from Deerfield's Andrew Ferdman during their game on Friday in Skokie. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:08PM
SKOKIE — Niles North senior forward BJ Beckford thinks teammate JJ Myles is the Vikings’ secret offensive weapon.
But after scoring in double figures in back-to-back games, Myles will hardly be a man of mystery to future opponents.
In Niles North’s 67-55 win over Deerfield on Friday, the visiting Warriors designed their zone defense to take away the penetration of senior guards Malachi Nix and Lorenzo Dillard and to cover the smooth-shooting Beckford on the perimeter.
Myles, a 5-foot-8 junior known mostly for his defense, repeatedly was left open in the corner. He knocked down three 3-pointers in the first quarter as Niles North, which improved to 12-3, 5-0, opened up a 14-point first-half lead.
Myles finished with 14 points, hitting four of nine from behind the arc — a performance that came on the heels of a 13-point outing in a 66-40 victory over Maine East three days earlier.
“His offense is coming along. He’s another shooter,” Beckford said of Myles. “When they are playing triangle-and-two on Malachi and me, that leaves him open. He’s another secret weapon for us. We don’t want anybody to know that he can shoot that well because they are going to change how they’re playing.”
In fact, Myles’ shooting ability was not much of a secret to Deerfield coach Dan McKendrick, who said Myles was in his scouting report. However, McKendrick said he had to make concessions when drawing up a defense to stop the Vikings’ many talents.
Lately, Myles has shown he’s capable of punishing teams who leave him open. Vikings coach Glenn Olson hasn’t been surprised.
“In practice, we spend a lot of time shooting the ball, and it’s like, ‘holy cow, this kid can really shoot it,’” Olson said. “It’s been fun to watch him develop and gain confidence.”
Olson said Myles’ offense might have developed slowly this season because the first-year varsity player was finding his niche on a team with established veterans like Nix, Dillard, Beckford and Billy Voitik.
Myles also said he spent limited time working on his jump shot in the fall because of his roles as a cornerback and receiver on the Vikings’ football team.
“It took me awhile to get back in the groove (when basketball started),” Myles said. “But playing with good players like Malachi, Lorenzo and BJ helped me to become a better player and have confidence on the court. They always are ready to pass me the ball. They are not selfish.”
Even before his recent breakout week, Myles was contributing on defense by working feverishly in the team’s full-court press.
“I strive for defense more than anything, more than offense,” he said. “I love playing defense full-court. It’s a rush you can’t really explain.”
Said Beckford: “(Myles) is a very good defender, probably the best in the state, and you can quote me on that.”