The standard at Dr. Phillips is high for athletics. Inside their gym you’ll only see state championship banners. The boys basketball team does not have one, but who’s counting.
“1, 2,” Denzel Aberdeen is shouting out his made threes in a drill. He’s trying to make as many as he can in a minute.
“Already know before it hits the rim,” Aberdeen says as he sinks his tenth. “Already know.”
The junior is the teams point guard and knock down shooter.
“Denzel for us is our rock,” second year Dr. Phillips head coach Ben Witherspoon says. “We put the ball in his hands and we trust him to make most of our decisions.”
Aberdeen’s skillset and leadership qualities helped the Panthers win one of the toughest districts in the state and earn a trip to the 7A State Semi-finals for the first time in a decade.
“Whenever my team needs me to step up I’m going to step up,” Aberdeen says.
His combination of size, shooting and playmaking have earned him the attention of several division one colleges.
“I have three division one offers right now from Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast and Louisiana Lafayette,” Aberdeen says.
His philosophy is to make the most out of every shot, because he’s learned you never know when it could be your last. His shoes have several written reminders.
“Philippians 4:13 is all things are possible through Christ and Proverbs 16:3 is commit to the lord through everything that you do all your accomplishments,” he says while looking at his shoes. “So any personal or team achievements, I play for Christ.”
The bible verses are on the back of his Kevin Durant Nike’s. On the sides you’ll see two names that mean more to him than any NBA star.
“This here is my Uncle Clay and My Cousin Peter,” Aberdeen says.
He has “R.I.P Peter” and “R.I.P. Clay” with a heart symbol written in permanent ink on the tape of his shoes. Peter on the right, Clay on the left. During the summer of 2020 both died within a month of each other.
“Really and truly when I look at it, when I put it on I just want to play for them,” Aberdeen says. “Knowing that every day is not granted and play hard. These are my motivations right here.”
Aberdeen and Dr. Phillips mission now is to hang that first basketball banner. He wants it for his team and he wants it for Clay and Peter.
“We have one goal, so chase it,” Aberdeen says.