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Boys basketball: Oswego East’s CJ Vaughan expands his game

Oswego East's CJ Vaughan (left) brings ball upcourt against Romeoville's Jimmy Moon.  | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

Oswego East's CJ Vaughan (left) brings the ball upcourt against Romeoville's Jimmy Moon. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 10, 2013 6:30AM

Isn’t he grand?

Yes, and then some.

Oswego East senior CJ Vaughan hit the 1,000-point mark in his career Tuesday in a win over Romeoville. The 6-foot-1 guard had his usual strong all-around game, making 10-of-16 shots from the floor, including 5-for-7 from beyond the three-point line and all five free throws to go with four rebounds.

The third-year varsity player has had the lead role for coach Ron Murphy’s Wolves, who have bounced back from an 0-7 start and are hovering near the .500 mark.

“I knew deep down we weren’t as bad as we started,” Vaughan said. “We only had two guys with real good varsity experience. We weren’t well-disciplined and couldn’t hold leads at the end of close games. We learned, though, and are winning some of those.”

Vaughan, too, has learned since being promoted to the varsity as a sophomore by former coach Jason Buckley and his assistant (Murphy).

“I was strictly a shooter. I’d stand on the perimeter and shoot, but as the years have gone on, I’ve been working on putting the ball on the floor,” Vaughan said.

“That’s because at the next level, at my height, you just can’t shoot the ball. They’ll get somebody that’s 6-5 to do that, so you have to bring other things.”

Interesting Vaughan would choose 6-5. Maybe it’s because his dad, Clive, who played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh and professionally in England, stands that tall.

Also a former collegiate assistant coach, Clive Vaughan’s connections have helped CJ land the opportunity of a lifetime this summer that figures to help him enhance his game even further.

The elder Vaughan was born in England, so his son is able to play internationally under a British passport. Clive Vaughan is a former English teammate of Steve Bucknell, a former North Carolina Tar Heel and Los Angeles Laker player, who currently coaches Britain’s 18-and-under National team.

After checking CJ out on film, Bucknell has invited him to join the team this summer after his Oswego East graduation.

“He’ll fly to London, train with the team and then they go to Italy and Belgium to play some games before going on to Latvia in July (16-29) to play in the FIBA World Championships,” Clive Vaughan said. “Since 2000, every MVP of that tournament has gone on to play in the NBA, so he’ll be facing some of the top young players in Europe.”

It’s all part of the process for the younger Vaughan, who has focused on improving his ballhandling, defense and rebounding the past two years.

It showed recently in a game in which he struggled against Batavia. CJ had an off night shooting, making just 2-of-14 from the floor, but still had a positive impact on the win.

“In the second half I tried to change things up and not only shoot the ball but take it to the hoop, drive and pick up contact so maybe I can get to the free throw line,” the youngster said.

The result?

He hit his season average of 16 points by making 11-of-12 free throws in the win.

“He also had seven rebounds, three assists and four steals,” Murphy said. “That’s the stuff I love. He contributes in other ways, and sometimes that’s lost on people.”

CJ will likely play next fall at a prep school before moving on to college.

“He’s playing well but that experience would really help him,” his dad said. “I’m really hard on him, probably because I’ve played and coached. He’s really improved his mental game.”

CJ says his home-schooling has helped.

“I think I have a good (basketball) IQ, but he’s helped me improve it,” the son said. “Most guys, when they watch basketball watch people cross somebody over or dunk, but (Clive) will break down the film. Sometimes we don’t even watch the ball. We may watch someone I try to take after and check out how they try to get open or moves they make I can try to bring to my game. Stuff like that.”

Good stuff, indeed.

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