Minutes are nothing to Xander Ouellette.
The 6-foot-1, 14-year old shooting guard is conditioned for just about anything. He plays on an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team, the Georgia Orangemen Elite, as well as both his junior varsity and varsity teams.
However, Ouellette’s time with the program is in jeopardy. Ouellette plays for the North Atlanta Flight, a Division III team under the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association. GICAA DIII teams are composed of athletes who either attend online learning academies or are homeschooled without affiliation. Because of the lack of membership that feeds into the program, the team’s roster stability is constantly in question—now it has six seniors leaving.
“We’re at the point where nobody is coming into the program,” Xander’s mother and teacher, Amy Ouellette, said. “There seems to be an age gap. We definitely need more players, and it’s all about the parents, how much they talk it up, and getting the word out.”
Evidently the word is out on Xander. He and the Flight just returned from the National Christian Homeschool Basketball Championships (NCHBC) in Springfield, Missouri. There, Xander was nominated for awards as Freshman of the Year and 6th Man of the Year. He didn’t win either prize, but his recognition at the national level furthers his contention that no matter the avenue, his future is his to make.
“The main school I’d like to play for is UConn,” he said. “Georgia, Florida, Arizona and Kentucky. Those are all on my radar.”
The challenge of being noticed is what pushes Xander every day. When school is over around 1 or 2 p.m., he simply steps outside, drags his little brother, Avery, along, and the routine continues.
“We play games of 21, but I make him go to 35,” said Avery.
If Avery’s not around, Xander will wait for Dad to put a body on him. If he’s not playing pickup games at home, he’s at practice with the Flight. With the combination of Flight basketball and the Orangemen, Xander is constantly playing games.
He checks in to junior varsity games with the Flight, scoring 12.5 points per game. After a quick break, he’ll join the varsity team—he’s their first option off the bench, averaging 8.3 points.
He’s playing two seasons at once, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m not big into running, so at first it was overwhelming to do both,” Xander said. “But as the year has gone on I’ve kind of gotten used to it. Plus, in AAU we do a ton of conditioning.”
Xander said ball-handling and driving in the lane are on his to-do list entering his sophomore season.
“I’m working on being more aggressive and driving to the basket,” he said. “I’m not going to lie. I really just love to shoot the ball. That’s my favorite thing.”
The Flight finished 22-17 at the varsity level and 18-4 in junior varsity. Both programs won the GIACC DIII state championships at Mercer University in Macon last weekend.
The NCHBCs has seen DI talent surface before: Chauncey Collins of Texas Christian University and Justin Jackson of North Carolina are just two players who have taken the non-public route to major college basketball.
Current Oklahoma City Thunder guard Jeremy Lamb also played for the North Atlanta Flight before playing at Norcross and eventually Connecticut.
Xander hopes to follow in Lamb’s footsteps—almost. He could play at North Forsyth, the high school in his district, but he’d rather be a part of growing the GICAA brand.
“I could join (North Forsyth) and help their program out I think,” Xander said. “But I also feel like there’s just as many ways to get my name out there with what I’m doing now.”