By: Nathan Rubinstein
Coaches at any level of basketball are always looking for players that can immediately impact their teams, and continue to improve over the years. That is exactly what senior guard Rayon Christie has done for the Simsbury High School basketball program.
Christie came onto the Connecticut varsity high school basketball scene later in his freshman year, first molding his craft at the junior varsity level. Simsbury just didn’t know exactly where Christie would fit on the experienced Trojan varsity team.
After scrimmaging with the JV team for several weeks, Christie earned a spot on the varsity bench. His talent was hard to keep quiet, and head coach Greg Stillman of the Trojans remembers the first game that Christie checked in, and from that point on, Christie was a varsity player.
“First game we put him in, we let him play a couple of minutes,” Stillman said. “It was one of those things when the lights went on and he was just a player.”
The young frosh belonged at the varsity level, and his minutes continued to increase as the season played on.
Halfway through Christie’s freshman campaign, he said farewell to the JV’s, and became a varsity member full time. Filling the role as the Trojan backup point guard, he played the game with poise as if he was a seasoned vet.
Christie finished his freshman year scoring eight points per game, shooting 39 percent from 3-point land. Rayon came back to Simsbury his sophomore year ready to contribute but took a back seat to a couple of high profiled players in Walter Whyte and EJ Crawford.
Knowing that Whyte and Crawford would handle majority of the scoring load, coach Stillman sketched Christie’s name into the point guard slot to act as a third scoring option and a distributor. He ended his sophomore season scoring 11.1 points per game while dishing out 3.5 assists per game.
Christie knew his role and facilitated Simsbury’s offense well, but when his number was called, he had no problem stepping up.
The last regular season game of that year the Trojans had Farmington on their plate, and the Indians knew that they had to shut down Simsbury’s EJ Crawford if they wanted to win. With Crawford being locked down, Christie took over and dropped 36 points, proving that he was a proficient scorer.
“That was the first time he really put it (Christie’s scoring ability) on display,” said Stillman.
Junior year, Christie blossomed not only as a player, but also as a leader for the Simsbury program. Both Whyte and Crawford transferred to prep schools in hope to gain more college interest, and the Trojans had a couple of seniors that graduated as well.
With the inexperience that Simsbury had, Christie was moved from point guard to shooting guard, having the offense revolve around him. To add to that, Christie’s teammates named him captain as a junior and knew that they could trust him under that roll.
“He’s very good at appreciating his teammates,” Stillman said. “Nobody has a problem passing to him (Christie), nobody has a problem setting screens for him, getting him the ball knowing that’s the guy we want to get the ball to, and a big a part of that is because he appreciates them doing that.”
Many critics believed that the Trojans were going to fall right on their face in the 2014-2015 season. Losing all the star power from a 16-7 team the year prior, the expectations from Simsbury fans weren’t high.
They obviously didn’t understand the capabilities of their junior guard.
Simsbury finished the regular season 16-4, and fell in the state LL quarterfinals. Christie scored 23.7 points per game and grabbed 5.2 rebounds. From 3-point range he shot 44 percent, and earned first team Class LL All-State recognition.
Now, Christie is a senior, and is the all-time leading scorer at Simsbury High School with 1274 points, and counting, next to his name.
The Trojans currently sit at 10-3, and have potential to win some hardware for their school.
“One goal is to win the CCC,” Christie said on his team’s mission for the 2015-2016 season. “The other is to just become better as a team overall.”
The 6-foot-2 guard is currently scoring 22.1 points per game, shooting 40 percent from behind the arc. With his numbers continuing to progress, he has been receiving interest from coaches at the next level.
“I want to get stronger and faster,” Christie said on what he wants to focus on in his post-graduate year. “I also want to get more exposure and play against more competition.”
The two prep schools that Christie has shown interest in are Canterbury School, in New Milford, CT, and Proctor School in Andover, New Hampshire. Either program will not only allow Christie to excel on the court, but academically in the classroom as well.
A scorer, a leader and a versatile player that can play both the point guard and shooting guard positions, is what is packaged in Rayon Christie’s arsenal. With only a few months left of the high school basketball season, coaches will begin to crack down on the excellence that Christie exemplifies on the hardwood.
While the recruiting process could be a burden for one of the top guard in the state, Christie continues to play the game he loves with a smile on his face, focusing on achieving the goals that his team set in place at the beginning of the season.
To view Christie's highlights from last year follow the link below: