Five minutes after the New Albany High School boys basketball team's practice ended Dec. 18, Chris London was practicing his footwork and shooting in an empty gymnasium.
The 6-foot-3 junior forward/center was needed outside the gym, but assistant coach Jerry Tackett had to call London's name several times before London heard and sprinted off the court.
"I was just loosening up my legs," London said with a laugh. "I like to jump a lot so that's what I do. It's what I bring to the team."
London seemingly has found his place in the program after moving from Chillicothe as a sophomore. He started at forward in each of the Eagles' first two games. New Albany was 2-0 overall and in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Olentangy on Dec. 20.
London scored six points in a 57-40 win over Delaware on Dec. 10, but rebounded to score 23 in a 57-50 win over Franklin Heights on Dec. 13. London scored more than four points in a game just once last year as a bench player, and that was a seven-point effort against DeSales, but he downplayed any notion he could be a focal point for the offense this year.
"With my athletic ability, I go in there, get rebounds and do what I can," London said. "Against Franklin Heights, coach (Sam Davis) knew I was on. I was feeling it a little better. My teammates did a great job getting me the ball. On our team, whoever's hot is hot. We just try to get them the ball. That's what we did, and I ended up getting 23 somehow.
"I'm comfortable shooting in the post, but occasionally I can spot up for a 3 if we need it."
London comes from a basketball family. His older brother, Malik, was a Division I recruit as a 6-8, 200-pound forward. He led Chillicothe to the Division II regional tournament in 2011 and originally signed with Cleveland State but now plays for Missouri State-West Plains, a junior college.
Their younger brother, Bryson, is a 6-4 sophomore guard/forward who comes off the bench for New Albany.
Although Chris London works on his dribbling and shooting from 10 to 15 feet, he doesn't anticipate ever playing guard. However, six of London's points against Franklin Heights came from 3-point range.
"I can dribble occasionally, even though coach doesn't approve of it," London said, again with a laugh. "I can get to the paint and either dish it off or finish hard."
Davis is especially pleased with London's defensive effort, which he said has improved considerably this year and led to some of London's offensive contributions.
"He's always been a very athletic young man, but he's not had a high priority on defense," Davis said. "Now, he's becoming a player. He's working hard on his ball-handling skills. Coach Ting (Tyler Tingley) has done an outstanding job with that. Chris is really developing his left hand and his shot is really coming around. He finishes so much higher than he did when he got here, and now he's starting to play defense. He gets in his stance more. He still has a long way to go, but he's moving his feet better than he has since he's been here."
Davis played as many as 11 players in each of the Eagles' first two games. In an effort to keep practice competitive, Davis and his staff pick the top 10 players each week and ensure that all will see time in the first quarter of games, with substitutions after that based on the flow of the game and individual efforts.
Trey Miller started the first two games at point guard, joined by shooting guards Alex Sparks and Avery Schneider, London at forward and John Miller at center.
Trey Miller started the season with two solid games, recording eight points, six rebounds and six assists against Delaware and six points, nine rebounds and five assists against Franklin Heights.
"We're deep this year, deeper than we've been since I've been here," said Davis, who is in his 14th season. "Playing 10 or 11 kids every game is going to keep us fresh. It's going to pay dividends."
Dinsmore step closer to Youth Olympic Games
David Dinsmore of the swimming and diving team won the 10-meter platform diving competition at USA Diving's Youth Olympic Games qualifier selection trials Dec. 16 in Austin, Texas, ensuring himself a spot in the qualifier from Feb. 28-March 2 in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Youth Olympic Games will take place in August in Nanjing, China.
Dinsmore won with a 557.15-point effort.
Dinsmore and Eagles teammate Estee Pryor were in Austin last week to compete in the USA Diving Winter National Championships at the University of Texas.
Pryor was 11th (509.8 points) of 18 competitors in a senior women platform semifinal Dec. 18 after she was 14th (247.35) of 19 competitors in the preliminary round to advance. She fell short of the finals in senior women platform as well as in senior women 1-meter springboard, in which she was 22nd (224.55) of 33 competitors.
Dinsmore did not compete in the first two days of the national championships, which continued until Dec. 22.
Pryor and Dinsmore competed as members of the Ohio State Diving Club and did not start the season with New Albany because of their participation in the national meet. According to New Albany diving coach Selene Kelley, they will be able to rejoin the Eagles when competition resumes Jan. 4 with a home meet.
Orange Bowl prompts time changes
The boys and girls basketball teams' games against Big Walnut on Jan. 3 have been moved up more than two hours to avoid a conflict with the Orange Bowl, in which Ohio State will play Clemson.
Both Eagles teams were scheduled to play at 7:30, but now the varsity games will begin at approximately 5:15 p.m. The boys game is at Big Walnut, and the girls are at home.
The Orange Bowl is scheduled to kick off at 8:30 p.m.
No other New Albany teams have scheduled events that night.