Formerly known as the East Side Heat, East Side Athletics in East St. Paul, Minnesota, is in the first year of its rebranding process and is looking to establish itself as a force on the Prep Hoops Next Circuit. Staying…
Formerly known as the East Side Heat, East Side Athletics in East St. Paul, Minnesota, is in the first year of its rebranding process and is looking to establish itself as a force on the Prep Hoops Next Circuit.
East Side Athletics program director DeMontrea Davis finds himself coaching teams right in the backyard of where he grew up as a kid.
Davis has been involved with basketball all his life and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. His roots are established in East St. Paul, Minnesota, just like the program is. He played high school basketball at Arlington High School, now known as Washington High School located in St. Paul, and played college basketball at the JUCO level at both Rochester and Minneapolis Community technical college.
With his roots being established here, Davis wanted to give back to the East Side. “This community has lost so many good kids to other programs since there aren’t that many teams around. I wanted to give that back to the community.”
Finding success through adversity
East Side Athletics is looking to continue to build on the success they have had over the last two years, including already winning a tournament this year. “We’ve had to battle some adversity with COVID and things being shut down, but we’ve battled through it,” said Davis.
The team has bounced around different practice facilities but is finding ways to continue to put work in. “We’re actually practicing in a church at the moment with all the closures going on. The guys continue to put in the work and it’ll pay off,” said Davis.
The 2027 team will be competing in the Midwest Kickoff in Missouri, Battle of The Lakes in Minnesota, and War of The North in Illinois, three Prep Hoops Next events. On top of wanting to win, Davis wants to do things bigger than what happens on the court.
“It’s all about getting these kids exposure. They’re making the transition from playing a lot of rec ball to organized basketball and I want to put them in the right positions to succeed,” said Davis.
Davis also recognizes that Minnesota has a ton of talent across the board with a lot of teams. “Minnesota is coming out with a lot of talent on a lot of teams, and we want to try to establish ourselves as one of those teams,” Davis added.
Filling out the 2027 Roster
This team is young but has some skilled guys that are able to accomplish many things on the floor revolving around players that have multiple things in their game, either being a two-way player or being able to play inside or outside on the offensive end with no issues.
Dwayne Gibson JR, Guard, 5’3
Gibson is a player that is able to take it inside and stretch the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. “He can play inside out basketball,” said Davis. “He’s able to work out of the post and can knock down shots. He’s definitely our sharpshooter.”
Gibson also has a good game-sense that you need out of your primary guards. “He knows when it’s time to take over and when it’s time to defer to others in the offense,” said Davis. “His ability to get other guys involved keeps everyone happy and everyone on the court working hard.”
Everett Smith, Guard, 5’3
Smith is another shooter on the team that is lights out from the corner. “The great thing about him is that he takes on more of a leadership role. When the offense is lagging behind he’s the guy to go,” said Davis. “He is a spark plug and can just go score the ball if we need it.”
Andre Scarver, Center, 5’5
Scarver is the big man on the team and he embraces the role. He enjoys playing the four and plays inside the arc on offense. “He’s able to draw defenders out of the paint. He has a nice midrange shot that is his go-to shot and he’s able to knock it down at a good rate,” said Davis.
Johnathan Simmons, Guard, 5’1
Simmons is a smaller guy on the court but it doesn’t deter him from stepping up to the challenge of guarding the opposing team’s best player. Simmons attacks the rim on offense and can finish around the cup. What sets him apart is his defensive ability on ball. “He has the ability to disrupt ball handlers. He has really good timing with his hands and is able to time up when to reach and can cause a lot of frustration,” said Davis. He sets the tone on defense and is our defensive anchor. He will step up and he will guard the opposing team’s best player every single game.