High School Sports

Jaylin Posey’s return to Grand Prairie could be key to ending one of the longest playoff droughts in the Dallas area

The key to ending one of the longest boys basketball playoff droughts in the Dallas area spent last season in the stands.

GRAND PRAIRIE — The key to ending one of the longest boys basketball playoff droughts in the Dallas area spent last season in the stands. He watched, knowing his worth but understanding there was nothing he could do to help the team on the court, a family to him that he supported unconditionally, even though he had left them for two seasons.

Without Jaylin Posey, the Grand Prairie basketball team competed, but it wasn’t enough to earn a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

With him, they could be something special, and Posey knew it.

“Every time I came to watch them play they were always missing one more player,” Posey said. “One more leader, one more person to rebound, one more person to finish — and I felt like I was that one person to do it.”

Posey, a Stephen F. Austin signee, decided to transfer from Universal Academy in Irving back to Grand Prairie for his senior season with aspirations of making a mark and leaving a legacy at the school where he started. Three games into district play, he’s succeeded, leading Grand Prairie to a 15-1 start after an 11-win season a year ago.

“I came back because I just felt like it was something I needed to do for myself … It was something I felt in my heart I wanted to do — I wanted to be a part of something more than myself. I wanted to change, not only a program but a community as a whole. I wanted to change the outlook of what Grand Prairie has been for so long.”

For so long, the postseason has eluded the Grand Prairie boys basketball program. The Gophers’ entire postseason history hangs in order inside the gymnasium, but ends with a banner commemorating the 2004 regional semifinalist team.

More than a decade without the reward of the postseason can weigh on a program. Posey and fellow senior Donald Ghostone, a Texas A&M-Commerce signee, remember a culture that wasn’t conducive to winning.

“They weren’t focused on winning,” Posey recalled. “They were more doubting themselves.”

Posey and Ghostone both transferred out, but eventually returned. A big reason was Barron Brown, who’s entering his 10th with the program and his second as the team’s head coach.

Brown, a former star at Lancaster who played at Texas Tech, considers himself a father figure as well as a coach. He wants the best for his players, he said, so when Posey — a player he’s known since eighth grade — said he was transferring, Brown supported him, even though it wasn’t easy for the coach.

“It was sad, man” Brown recalled. “It felt like my kid was leaving home for the first time.”

It was also a major loss for the program. Ghostone proved to be a go-to scorer for Grand Prairie, averaging over 23 points per game as a junior. Buy one player doesn’t make a team, Brown said, and though Grand Prairie performed to the best of its abilities, it wasn’t enough to make the playoffs.

With Posey, though, it could be different. The 6-foot-2 point guard is averaging 20.4 points per game and shooting 35.6 percent from 3-point range. He’s also averaging seven rebounds per game while often guarding an opponent’s best player, regardless of position. He also hit a game-winning jumper in 42-40 win over Cedar Hill.

But Posey’s impact is more than what he does on the court.

“He’s like everything,” Ghostone said of Posey. “He keeps us together gelled in and locked in.”

He also sets a standard, Brown said. He’d do anything to win and it rubs off on his teammates. Last Saturday, senior Donovan Newton scored 18 points as Grand Prairie beat third-ranked South Grand Prairie 72-68. It was the first time the Gophers had beat their crosstown rival since Jan. 9, 2015. After the game the team celebrated the big win. Meanwhile, Newton, battling illness all day, vomited in the locker room.

Newton’s performance was an example of a team that’s now committed to winning. It’s also a program that believes it belongs with the best in the state.

After a 15-1 start — their only loss was a two-point defeat to Hebron — there’s reason to believe.

“We are making history,” Brown said. “In Grand Prairie basketball history we’ve never been 15-1.”

Grand Prairie could make even more history if it makes the playoffs for the first time in 16 years. And Posey's return might be the key to all of it.

On Twitter: @JoeJHoyt

Joseph Hoyt, Staff Writer. Joseph has covered high school sports for The Dallas Morning News since November, 2018. After graduating from the University of Oregon in 2016, Joseph interned at The News before working for The Ames Tribune and KOIN-TV in Portland.

joseph.hoyt@dallasnews.com /JosephHoytDMN @joejhoyt

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