Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Home News
Friday, Jan. 16, 2009 | midnight
Don't be fooled by Jonah Legg's 6-foot, 3-inch frame.
While the man-sized eighth grader looks like a slow center among his smaller competition, his coach and teammates at Charles Silvestri Middle School say he is anything but.
"Jonah's a point guard in Shaquille O'Neal's body," eighth grade teammate Keanu Peters said.
As a seventh grader last year, Legg averaged about 10 points and seven rebounds per game.
"Last year at 12 years old he was talented but still very young at heart," Silvestri coach Jeff Curi said. "He would miss an easy shot and then get frustrated and let that get to him. He's really changed his attitude this year. He's smiling and having more fun, so he's performing better."
Standing more than a foot taller than most of his opponents, Curi said, Legg can sometimes be underestimated as a lumbering post player but is actually the fastest player on the team and one of its better shooters.
Curi said Legg will play point guard at times this year but added that he could play anywhere on the court and likely excel.
"Sometimes it's weird for me to be on the court and be so much taller than everybody my age," Legg said. "I just play my best and try to use my size to help my team. I try to practice against older kids to help me improve."
Curi said one of Legg's biggest challenges is being slapped with fouls because of his large frame.
"He's 13 but he looks 17, so when he bumps someone, it looks worse than it is," Curi said. "He got hit with a lot of bad fouls last year and he would let that get in his head. I think he can move past that this year."
Peters said Legg bring more than just talent to the Sharks.
"Most people look at him and say, 'Wow, he's real big, so that's why he's good,' but he's on the court all the time," Peters said. "He works real hard all the time and we can depend on him. He passes, he shoots, he rebounds. He's just a good teammate."
The Sharks have four year-round players — Legg, Peters, and Kai and Isaiah Nacua. Curi said this is the best shooting team he has had at Silvestri.
"We have a real strong shooting team and I'm even going to let them shoot 3-pointers this year," Curi said.
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.