Jordan Houegban is a 16-year-old L.A. kid with African roots raised by a single mother. He fell in love with basketball from the first day he showed up as a 5-year-old at the Palisades Recreation Center after pleas to his mother.
“I was always telling my mom when I was young I wanted to play basketball,” said Houegban, whose mother was born in Sierra Leon and father in Benin. “She finally listened. I signed up for a team and it was one of the best experiences I ever had and made me love basketball.”
Watching Houegban shoot a three-point attempt for Brentwood School is like appreciating an eagle in full flight. There’s beauty in his high-arching shot, and when it drops perfectly through the net, you want to instantly replay it because it looks so smooth and masterful in flight.
It has been perfected through hours of practice in gyms in the morning and at night.
“I think Jordan is going to be great,” Brentwood coach Ryan Bailey said. “Even after a good shooting night, he’s back in the gym at 7 a.m. the next morning.”
The thing is Houegban looks like he’s in the middle of another growth spurt. He’s 6 feet 1 but runs the court with feet that are expanding, which explains his size 13 shoes and occasional awkwardness.
“I’m definitely going through a growth spurt,” he said.
Added Bailey: “When you shake his hand, it’s like a mitt around you.”
Houegban’s mother, Maya, came from Sierra Leon when she was 5 and lived in New York. His father is 6-5. She’s 5-4, and when Jordan passed her and his older sister in height, the family dynamic changed.
“That’s why I knew I had to get him under control before he got taller than me,” his mother said. “Now he towers over me. I can’t look down at him and tell him anything.”
Jordan always listens to his mother.
“We believe in education,” she said. “Made sure it’s a daily thing, not Monday through Friday, but every day.”
His sister attends Pennsylvania. Maya has been the parent in charge for years, and she has relied on a series of coaches to help Jordan develop his skills. His willingness and enthusiasm to embrace those helping him on his basketball journey have put him on a path to success.
Bailey is just hoping he doesn’t miss the growth spurt while Houegban is at Brentwood. Lots of things will change if he ends up 6-4. Bailey has been working with Houegban since he enrolled in sixth grade. He’s averaging 16 points this season for 18-3 Brentwood and made six threes on Tuesday in a loss to Windward.
“You knew he was going to be good because he had the desire,” Bailey said. “Some kids talk it. He walks it.”
Said Houegban: “I can ask him whatever and he’ll give me advice.”
And he never forgets who’s the boss at home even if he’s the tallest.
“At the end of the day, I’m a fiery, short person,” his mother said. “I grew up in New York. You will listen. I will be the boss until he graduates.”