Jouldan Velez may have just transferred to Windermere Prep, but the senior is expected to play a big role on head coach Brian Hoff’s basketball team. Velez, who plays at the point, has already been named a co-captain on the team and will get a ton of minutes in his last year of high-school basketball.
When did you first get into basketball?
I think I was probably 5. My dad coached overseas and took care of national teams in Puerto Rico, but he put me into baseball at first. My sister played basketball and she was fairly good, and my parents would always give her attention, and I was like, “I want to play basketball.”
This is your first year at Windermere Prep — what’s that been like?
It’s definitely different for sure. One of the things is that I’m the oldest — everyone on our team is fairly young. There’s a lot of sophomores, juniors and freshmen.
What’s the toughest aspect of transferring in and joining a new team?
Trying to fit it. Not trying to change yourself or your character, but just try to be you — I don’t have to change myself for someone to like me.
Is there a highlight moment that stands out to you from the last four years?
I think freshman year where I’m at OCP, and I walk in the gym and I see Nassir Little and I see Ronaldo Segu, and I’m like, “Oh, this is going to be a fun year.” The best thing was at the end of the year, we won states and we were all in the locker room and we were like, “We really did this as a first year — we really did something people doubted we would be able to do.”
What is the most challenging part about playing point guard?
Point guards have to understand the game, they have to know where people like the ball, where they don’t like the ball and how they want to get the ball.
What is your favorite part about playing point guard?
Being the boss. I can be like, “Hey, we have to move out, and we have to calm down.” I think just being vocal, and being somebody they can look up to.
What are the best words of advice you’ve been given?
I think it has nothing to do with basketball, they say live your life day by day to get better. On and off the court it will show — it’s about the person you are and the character that you have.
As a senior captain on the team, does that add any extra stress?
No, I don’t think so. I think the more that I stay poised and the more that I stay calm, it keeps everyone on the team calm as well. Even if I do have stress I try to keep it to myself so it doesn’t rub off on other people.
This is your last year of high-school basketball. How are you feeling about that?
The ball has to stop someday, but I think for my last year I’m just trying to enjoy it — the memories, the experience, the learning process and just growing. When it’s all said and done, I think I’ll look back and say, “I want to do it the same way I did it when I started.” I don’t think I have any regrets of what I have done.