“I really think Houston Hoops helped me get to the next level,” says Finley. “Playing against the top players helped me to be the best tight end in many ways. Hand-eye coordination, speed, jumping ability and mostly just outplaying the other guys is what made me better.”
It all started at a prep school in Diboll, Texas, a small town with just over 5000 people. That’s when Jermichael exploded on to the scene in a big way.
“No one had ever heard of Diboll, so no one really thought this kid was going to be any good,” says Austin Pastner, son of legendary Houston Hoops founder Hal Pastner, who played ball with Jermichael back in the day. “In Diboll though, he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
It seemed like for every football honor he received at Diboll High School, a basketball accolade would follow suit. He would be named District Offensive Player of the Year in football, and then follow with a District MVP in basketball. Along with being an All-State football selection as a tight end/receiver, he was also an All-State small forward. As a senior at Diboll, he averaged an awe-inspiring 24 points and 20 rebounds while leading the Lumberjacks to an 18-4 record, even amassing 48 points on one memorable night. But it wasn’t until he started playing against stiff competition at Houston Hoops his sophomore year, that people realized what kind of multi-talented athlete he truly was.
“J-Mike was an athletic freak,” says Pastner. “He was so strong, but he had legit basketball skills and could jump out of the gym. Playing for the Hoops, he played against the top competition at the time, and given his size and strength, he would always guard the opponents’ best player â€“ whether it was Louis Williams, Julian Wright, Martell Webster, Brandon Rush or Calvin Miles.”