JUSTIN FLEMING might not be the best player in his family's household, but after yesterday's shooting performance he could be on his way.
The Father Judge junior scored 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting and went 4-for-7 on threes in the Crusaders' 55-44 victory against host Abraham Lincoln.
And you can consider the 6-1 guard's early-season shooting woes gone. In fact, Fleming outscored the Railsplitters, 18-15, by himself at halftime (34-15, Judge).
"Felt great to shoot it like that because the first few games I was going 1-for-6 or 2-for-6," he said. "So it's good because our first three games were home and this was our first road game."
So why the troubles at home?
Perhaps the Northeast Philadelphia resident can trace his struggles to the unfriendly basketball confines of the family's backyard near Frankford Avenue, a 2-minute walk, he says, from where his brother Eric is currently a redshirt junior guard at Holy Family.
"Yeah, he beat me all the time," Fleming said of Eric, a former Archbishop Ryan standout. "And my other brother [Bob] went to Judge. He played football. He's a pretty big guy. I would always play him 1-on-1 so he could push me around."
Maybe Fleming sought solace with mom after some of those losses, or maybe not.
According to her son, Serafine Fleming, is the family's best athlete. She headlined at St. Hubert as Serafine Pio and later posted more than 3,000 points and 1,000 assists at now-closed Spring Garden College (1983).
Fleming also has an older sister, Barbara, who played at now-closed Cardinal Dougherty and then scored 1,000 points at Widener in a career that ended in 2010.
The family patriarch, Bob, also played at Spring Garden (by way of Bishop Neumann), and was an assistant for the women's team (which included Serafine) after he graduated in 1980.
Needless to say, you better bring your good stuff if you want to climb to the top of this family's basketball totem.
"I'm probably [the bottom] since I'm the youngest," Justin Fleming said.
Well, he was pretty darn good yesterday. In addition to leading all players in points, Fleming also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
"I always try to get down there after a shot goes up," he said. "I'm confident my teammates will make it, but I'm always down there just in case."
Senior forward Pat Mulville added 11 points, senior guard Will Brazukas contributed five assists and junior Quincy Reed corralled five rebounds for Judge (4-0).
For Lincoln (0-3), senior guard Lamar Talley scored 15, cleaned seven off the glass and blocked three while fellow senior guard Ishmael Marshall added 10 points and grabbed six boards.
However, Fleming's hot shooting ["I just want to thank my teammates for getting me the ball"] proved too much.
When asked the difference between his shots earlier this season and yesterday, he just shrugged.
"They went in," he smiled. "That's it. The ball just wasn't going in for me. At home, shots were on, but in and out or back rim. They just weren't going in. [Today] was just a good day."
And as for the title of family's best athlete, just give Justin Fleming some more time.
"I'm hoping it's gonna be me when it's all said and done," he said.