BY CORY WOODROOF
He hails from the same town as LeBron James, he’s one of Currey Ingram Academy’s best basketball players to ever take the court and he’s well-versed in iambic pentameter.
For the junior Mustangs basketball standout Truman Christie-Mizell, it all flows like poetry.
Christie-Mizell is already etching his name in the school’s athletic history in his second year attending. Approaching 800 points in two seasons, he’s on pace to be the school’s second 1,000-point scorer (former Mustang Jake Grader was the first).
He also holds the school’s three-best single-point performances (42, 37, 36) for a basketball player.
As for this season, he’s averaging about 24-25 points a game and has helped the Mustangs reach a 12-8 overall record.
Though, if you’d like to know what helps fuel Christie-Mizell’s sterling success on the court, you must consult the page.
“Usually, if I’m having a hard day, or things aren’t going right, I just read a bunch of poetry,” Christie-Mizell said. “Maybe, after a tough loss in a basketball game or [when] I just didn’t perform my best, I usually go home and just write about it or just read something.
“I read something that will help me get my mind off that in order to help me prep for the next game and just get my mind in a good place.”
He cites Rudy Francisco and Edgar Allen Poe as poets he loves to dive into for his readings.
So where does Currey Ingram’s standout athlete and poet get his love of basketball from?
Christie-Mizell was born in Akron, Ohio, of course known as LeBron’s hometown, and grew up watching the prolific NBA player his in his early days with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He joined a local Jewish Community Center to play ball as a kid, which helped him develop a love for playing the game himself.
“I enjoyed watching basketball and playing basketball even more after we won the championship for that JCC league,” he said. “Every time you would win a championship, you would get free tickets to the Cavs games. So, as a team, we would go up to Cleveland and watch them play.
“Just the first time watching an actual NBA basketball game was just amazing. It was an eye-opening experience. I just knew that, hey, basketball’s actually a fun sport, and it just progressed from there.”
Funny enough, Christie-Mizell also cites point guard Collin Sexton as someone he emulates on the court, who is now a Cavalier himself.
After his family transferred to Nashville for his dad’s work, Christie-Mizell attended Grassland Middle School and University School of Nashville until his sophomore year of high school. Then, he joined Currey Ingram and began to make his name in the school’s athletic program.
He says the transition was pretty seamless to the Brentwood-based school.
“I automatically fit in,” he said. “I didn’t feel the pressure to better than I was, and I didn’t feel the pressure to be less than I was, in a way.”
On the court, it’s Christie-Mizell’s job to get the points. The offense channels through its leading scorer, but the Mustang is hesitant to take all of the spotlight for himself.
“My role on this basketball team is to be the best leader and best basketball player I can be,” he said. “Although I am a key asset to this team, I wouldn’t have any of those numbers if it weren’t for my teammates who get me the ball in order for me to score.
“My job is…to encourage my teammates and just push them through hard moments and just be the best player I can be.”
For Mustangs head coach Reid McFadden, Christie-Mizell stands for the best of what the Mustangs are about.
“Truman is a very special basketball player, one that we’ve never really had here at Currey Ingram” McFadden said. “We were very thankful when he came to tour, and when he enrolled here. Last year…he was still finding himself, and we had a really strong group of seniors, which helped him fit in and learn who he could be.
“We gave him the power to explore who he was as a basketball player…he worked extremely hard in the offseason. Truman loves the game of basketball. He’s a coaches’ dream. He’s always asking, ‘Hey, Coach, how can I get better? I want to be the best that I can be. What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? How can we continue to work on those?'”
McFadden says Christie-Mizell is a great teammate for the Mustangs and zeroed in on one thing that makes the junior stand out.
“He loves watching film,” he said, a rare trait for a high school athlete. “Anytime he can get film, he’s always saying, ‘Hey, can I watch this game and that game. What do you think about this play here, this play there?'”
So we know what kind of athlete Christie-Mizell is. What kind of poet is he?
“I just write down everything that I’m feeling in the moment,” he says. “In my English classes, we were supposed to write these journal entries, or we could just write about whatever. So I usually just write about poetry.”
Do poetry and basketball compliment each other and make one or the other stronger?
“In a way, yes. Writing what you feel, it helps you become a better spokesman on the basketball court,” Christie-Mizell said. “You can express how you feel on the court to a coach or to a teammate.”
He brings back around the idea that poetry is an outlet to deal with what happens when the game doesn’t go your way.
“It’s really easy to put [those feelings] into poetry,” he said. “You’re able to see your thoughts onto paper, which is a really cool thing to do.”
The Mustangs are rounding out their season, with next Thursday’s home finale the capper on what’s been a largely successful year for the team.
Christie-Mizell feels he’s been able to grow throughout the 2018-19 campaign.
“It’s been a really good season for me as a leader, and I think I’ve established myself as a basketball player this year,” he said. “Last year, I was still trying to figure out who I was. In the offseason, me and my coach worked on my game.
“We worked on my strengths and weaknesses to prepare for this season, and I feel like, this year, I’ve just grown so much as a basketball player and as a person on and off the court. It’s just been a really good year.”
He’s got one more year after this one with Currey Ingram, when he will hope to become the school’s second 1,000-point scorer. From then on, he hopes to play college at the collegiate level, while at the same time, getting an education that will last a lifetime.
“I know that basketball is just a short thing that you can enjoy for a certain amount of time,” he said. “Although basketball will be a really good thing to do in college, which I’m hoping to do, I’m just looking for a college that will help me later on in life.”