We here at Balls.ie are very excited to announce a new monthly award. From today onwards, we're launching the Balls.ie Rising Star award, a monthly award celebrating excellence from future Irish sports stars.
The criteria is pretty simple: you need to be a sportsperson under the age of 20 and you must live in Ireland.
Choosing an inaugural winner for the January Rising Star award was made pretty easy for us after CJ Fulton lit up the world of Irish basketball with his historic 47-point performance for St Malachy's Belfast in their triumphant Subway Schools U16 A Boys Cup final win against St Mary's CBS Tralee last week.
A week later, Fulton's performance still boggles the mind. 15 three-pointers made out of 18 attempted. 11 three-pointers in the first half alone. It's a shooting performance that only elite NBA players like Steph Curry could dream of. CJ comes from vintage basketball stock as his dad (and coach) is Irish basketball legend Adrian Fulton, and we hope it's just the beginning of a gilded career on the hardwood.
We sent a few questions to CJ this week over email to learn more about his passion for basketball and here's what the Belfast teenager had to say:
Balls: What's your favourite NBA team?
CJ: Boston Celtics
Balls: Who's your favourite basketball player?
CJ: Kyrie Irving
Balls: How did you get so good at three-pointers?
CJ: I try to shoot 6 days a week. We are lucky that the sports hall is open both before school and at lunch time so we have plenty of chances to get some shots up, even if it’s only for 1/2 an hour.
Balls: Did you do anything different in your preparation that day? Have a big breakfast etc :)?
CJ: I didn’t do anything different on the morning of the game. I got some shots up in the morning before we left but nothing different than normal.
Balls: What’s the reaction been to the 47 point game in your school and beyond?
CJ: The reaction has been crazy. I definitely didn’t think that everyone would make as big a deal out of it, but I’ve definitely enjoyed it and am grateful for all the messages I’ve been getting.
Balls: Any tips for any other young basketball players looking to get better at long distance shooting?
CJ: When I’m not shooting the ball well I shoot with just my arms and don’t get enough legs into my shots so try and use your legs when shooting from 3 point range. Also, when shooting, we are are always told ‘toe to target’. I find this helps me a lot with my balance.
Balls: You obviously come from a famous Irish basketball family. What are your hopes and ambitions for your own basketball career?
CJ: I would like to play at as high a level as I can, whether that be overseas or here in Ireland.
Thanks to CJ for taking the time to answer our questions and keep an eye on Balls.ie next month for the February Rising Star winner. Send your nominees to [email protected]