Legacy Athletics is developing basketball players the right way

by | July 6, 2017 11:49 am

Jason Winningham is seen talking during one of his group sessions. Winningham has worked with over 200 youth this past month.

On most days during the week, you can drive by either the old middle school gymnasium or the YMCA and go inside and you will see about 20-30 kids working on their basketball skills with Jason Winningham.

Winningham came up with the idea for Legacy Athletics seven years ago, in Louisiana, where he was living at the time. During that period, he was working with high school, college, and professional level players working on increasing their overall skill sets. He takes what he learned during his lengthy playing career – the good and the bad – and just help and be there for the next generation of athletes.

Winningham, who played his high school basketball at McGavock High School, which was one of the largest high schools in the state at that time. Winningham was a late bloomer and rarely saw any meaningful playing time until his junior year of high school and was only a starter for one year. However, he made that senior year memorable. Winningham was chosen to be on the All-District team and All-Region team as a senior. Three colleges took notice of Winningham’s playing his senior year and offered him a scholarship: Chattanooga State, Motlow State, and Maryville College. Winningham chose Chattanooga State.

At Chattanooga State, a junior college, he helped lead a team that had only won a few games the year before to a number 17 ranking in the nation, and Winningham, who had come into his own there, had over 50 division one scholarship offers.

Winningham chose to go to Louisiana-Lafayette University. He would play only one year there. He would help propel his team to a Sunbelt Championship and a NCAA Tournament appearance. However, once the season ended, Louisiana-Lafayette lost one of their assistant coaches to Southeastern Louisiana University. He was the reason Winningham went to Louisiana-Lafayette, so he packed up his bags and transferred to Southeastern Louisiana University for his senior season.

At SLU, Winningham would have a breakout senior season. He would be named to the All-Conference team and averaged a double-double that year averaging 14.9 points per game and 10.2 rebounds. His team would also have a good year winning the A-Sun regular season championship but were upset in the conference tournament.

After college, Winningham played his first professional career in Spain. He would then move back to the states and play in the Continental Basketball Association, which is a professional Men’s Basketball Minor league in the United States. Winningham was a part of the Fort Wayne Fury. He would then head back overseas to play in France for a season.

In Winningham’s fourth season, he would play for another CBA team called the Yakima Sun Kings, out of Washington. He would win his first CBA Championship here. The next year he would move to Des Moines Dragons during the 1999-2000 season, and they would go on to win the CBA Championship.

Following that season, Winningham had a workout with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers, but couldn’t stick. So, his next season he would travel to Finland, then China, and he would play his last season in South America.

Winningham says, “This was a long process, but I learned a ton along the way. Growing up I made many mistakes in my career that didn’t set me back, but it also didn’t get me to where I should have been. Now I want to help kids get to where they want to go.”

After his basketball playing days had been done, Winningham started basketball training for young adults, in Louisiana, on the side. He first wanted to get into the health club industry, but he just couldn’t walk away from the game.

He said, “I have always had that love for the game. When I am on any gym floor, I feel at home, and that is where I am most comfortable. It has always been where my passion is, and I still have that to this day.”

Then a few year ago he moved to Sparta and started working with smaller kids as well.

Winningham says, “Never in a million years would I have seen myself living in Sparta. The move has been humbling for me, but it was a perfect fit here.”

Over the last couple of years, Legacy has seen a steady growth from where it started with just a few elementary kids. Now, Legacy has over 200 children from over 10 different counties. This past week, Winningham had his annual three-day camp. There were over 80 kids there from seven different counties.

Jason says, “I started Legacy because I wanted to provide that mentorship to young athletes. I will never tell a child [that] I will make you into a division one athlete. I know how hard that is and the hours that it takes to get there. I just want all my kids to be the best they can be at their level and develop a love for the game that sticks with them. If they work hard, work on their weaknesses with a strong passion for being great, they will excel. If they can develop that mentality at a young age, then great things will happen.

Winningham also started a non-profit organization called the Team Legacy Foundation to help the kids in the community. He also said big things are coming from this in the next six to eight months.

Winningham has also been working with local AAU teams and helping develop those players.

In the future, Winningham is hoping to open a sports-specific training center for the youth in this area.

He says, “In the Upper Cumberland there is nothing like a sports-specific training facility, and I feel like this is something we need for our kids.”

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