Long, lean and athletic. There are multiple options for a coach to employ when such an athlete is available to be positioned around the court and that's what makes Franklin High's and Play Hard Play Smart Renegades member Phillip Fayne so intriguing.
This running and jumping prowess is not surprising. At 6-foot-7 and 185, the senior-to-be's folks are athletes. Fayne's father participated in basketball and his mother was a volleyball player. Both sisters took after their Mom and one played collegiately.
Actually, sports participation is an extended family affair because, as Fayne said, "My family, my Mom, Dad, aunts, uncles, cousins all make sure I'm working hard with my training and that I have what I need to play." It may take a village to raise a child but with Fayne and hoops, it's kin coming through. They have his back and are on his back, in a good way.
He currently sees "my ability to finish, to play above the rim, rebound and defend" as his best on-court assets. Get him the ball when he's running a lane on the break or against a press and it's money.
Conversely, he's working hardest "on my ballhandling and my jump shot."
All has work and effort.
As a freshman, "it was 'call me lefty' because the ball never touched my right hand."
One other change is Fayne's expression while on the court. Also as an underclassman, "I would show my emotions. Now, you can't tell what I'm feeling because I play with a straight face."
The turning point with this began when this was pointed out to Fayne: "See those other players. They're laughing at you. They know they have you because they are in control, not you." This educational rather than scolding approach sunk in and became the fulcrum for Fayne's modification.
Here Lester Diaz, coach of the Play Hard Play Smart Renegades: "Phil is maybe one of the best athletes that I ever coached. He's tremendously gifted for a kid who has just started playing organized basketball at high school and our level. Once he figures out how to fix his jump shot and handles, it's all up from there. Weber State, Sacramento State and Eastern Washington, along with Montana, have shown interest with others looking to see more."
Fayne recently took the ACT and is attending summer school to better a grade in one class. He is on track to qualify.
As for a major at the next level, sports medicine garners some interest but he is still undecided.
Regarding next season's Franklin squad, Fayne believes "we will be really competitive." Having already participated as a group in some off-season high school tournaments, he sees "a strong team bond. We love the way we play but coach keeps us humble." That's Jesse Formaker, the longtime Franklin mentor. The Wildcats finished 20-9 overall in 2013-14, 7-3 in the Delta Valley Conference but with a realignment taking place, Delta will have Sheldon, Pleasant Grove, Jesuit, Grant and others now as competitors.
But first let's see what Fayne displays during the critical July tournaments.