CAPSHAW — Standing in the gym lobby at a holiday basketball tournament, Randy Jones perked up as the sound of a rim’s recoil echoed through the building.
For the West Point High basketball coach, the distinctive sound of a dunk sparked a recent memory.
“Jordon Gandy did that to us a few times when we played them,” Jones recalled. “Probably the best player we’ve faced.”
Jordon Gandy. Remember the name. He may be the area’s best-kept basketball secret — a budding star whose name is quickly getting out.
Jones isn’t the first person to rave about Gandy’s basketball prowess. The East Limestone High junior has become the buzz among coaches whose teams typically didn’t play the Indians before this season.
Cullman coach Bobby Meyer heard about Gandy during the offseason, but knew few specifics before East Limestone played the Bearcats in December for the first time.
“I walked away extremely impressed,” said Meyer, who led Cullman to the Class 5A Northwest Regional a year ago, and once again has a team that could make a run in the postseason.
“Gandy brought some challenges that our kids haven’t seen before, as far as him being a big kid who will face up on you and can shoot it extremely well. He had a great game against us … easily one of the best players we’ve faced, and we’ve played a tough schedule.”
Heading into November, Gandy wasn’t completely under the radar.
Even though East Limestone was paired last season in an Alabama High School Athletic Association area with mostly Huntsville schools, the Indians did play traditional rivals like Athens, Tanner and West Limestone. The coaches from all three programs labeled Gandy as one of the area’s best players.
So, who exactly is this budding star?
Gandy, a 6-foot-3 and 185 pound junior, moved to Capshaw from the Mississippi gulf coast in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. He grew up learning to play basketball in the competitive Biloxi-Gulfport recreational leagues, gaining skills that made his transition to high school basketball a breeze.
At East Limestone, Gandy stars as a hybrid forward, even though in college he is projected as possibly a 2-guard. As a sophomore last season, he averaged 18.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, earning honorable mention on the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 5A all-state basketball team.
This season, the scoring numbers are rising. Gandy is averaging 20.2 points and seven rebounds per game. He is shooting 45 percent from the field while leading East Limestone with 46 assists and 45 steals.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved basketball,” Gandy said. “It’s always been my favorite sport. The gym always has been like a second home for me. I could stay in here and shoot basketball all day long and never get tired of it.”
Gandy’s love for basketball shows in his commitment to developing into a polished, well-rounded player. Visit East Limestone’s gymnasium on a Sunday afternoon and you usually will find Gandy working on his shot or ball-handling skills.
“Right now, I’m really trying to work on my full-court dribbling skills,” said Gandy, who plays AAU basketball in the offseason with the Huntsville Heat. “I’m also focusing more on my left hand and finishing stronger around the basket. I’m usually up here every Sunday, and I hang out a lot in the afternoons, too.
“If you love the game, you’ll do whatever it takes to be the best at it.”
Natural talent and a strong work ethic are prominent parts of Gandy’s identity, but as his coaches and teammates often point out, there’s much more to the East Limestone star than basketball prowess.
Spend a few moments chatting with Gandy, and a calm, polite charm usually dominates the conversation. Intelligence shows through his words. The big high school junior is not only mature physically, but also mentally.
“Jordon is a great representative of our school,” East Limestone coach Chad Drake said. “From the classroom to the basketball court to off the court away from school, you don’t have to worry about Jordon. He is as fine of a young man as I’ve ever coached.
“He’s definitely a leader on our team — one who earns respect through his actions and deserves all the success he’s enjoying.”
East Limestone guard Andrew Uselton agreed, noting that anyone who hasn’t seen Gandy play is missing out on a real high school basketball treat.
“Jordon is a great player who’s always fun to watch,” Uselton said. “He offers way more than just one or two dunks a game. He gives you whatever the team needs, and if the game is on the line, you want the ball in his hands.
“I think everyone is starting to find out what all of us here at East already knew: That Jordon is an amazing player.”