Cutler Bay’s Xachary Bloom (Gulliver Prep), Miami Gardens’ Travers Evans Jr. (Pines Middle School), Miami’s Rachel Hernandez (TERRA Environmental Research Institute), Bal Harbour’s Jordan Sheppard (Miami Country Day School) and North Miami’s Tyler Zuluaga (David Lawrence K-8) were the February Academic/Sportsmanship Team Player honorees via the three-time world champion Miami Heat in partnership with Gatorade and The Miami Herald.
Miami Heat players Wayne Ellington, Udonis Haslem and Okaro White congratulated these standout student athletes during shoot-around on Feb. 13 as the Heat prepared to face the Orlando Magic at the AmericanAirlines Arena. They were later recognized in a ceremony at mid-court before tip-off.
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About the honorees
Xachary Bloom, 10, of Cutler Bay is one of the top 4th grade guards in South Florida. He was an integral part of the Gulliver Raider Elite 4th/5th grade team that went 10-1 this season en route to winning the championship in the Junior Premier Sports League.
Xachary maintained all A’s every report card since he’s been in school and had perfect attendance last year at Gulliver Prep. He is also in the Advanced 5th grade math class as a 4th grader. He traveled to England in the summer for the famous Five Star Basketball Camp and came home with a championship and playoff MVP and Mr. Hustle honors.
Travers Evans Jr., 13, of Miami Gardens exhibits all the characteristics of an outstanding student athlete. An Honor Roll student since elementary school, he is currently in the 8th grade at Pines Middle School. He has a true passion for basketball, and despite not making his middle school basketball team each year because of his short stature, he has never given up.
Travers is currently on a small non-profit youth basketball team (about 16 athletes, age 7-16) called The Achievers. This team was founded by Coach Ashaad Addison, known as Coach A. Although this is his first year playing, Travers has excelled and serves as his team’s point guard. They compete in the Miami Gardens Midnight Tournament League.
Rachel Hernandez, 14, of Miami is a 9th grader at TERRA Environmental Research Institute. She is a point guard who played on the Lady Shottas girls’ travel basketball team. She has the heart that will never quit, is a great teammate and a player every coach would love to have. She not only made the TERRA Wolves girls’ varsity basketball team as a freshman but started at point guard.
Rachel not only is an amazing athlete, but she is also an amazing student. She was accepted to the "BIO Medical Program" at TERRA Environmental Research Institute; she wants to become a doctor. She has a 4.667 GPA with straight A's while taking Honors courses. Her heart and passion on the court transcends to her studies. She works hard to get excellent grades and has a goal to attend medical school as well as play NCAA Division I basketball at Colombia University. Her favorite team is the Miami Heat.
Jordan Sheppard, 13, of Bal Harbour is a standout student athlete at Miami Country Day School. She is an Honors student with a passion for basketball. She started at point guard/shooting guard in 6th, 7th and 8th grade for the Miami Country Day Middle School girls’ basketball team.
As an 8th grader, she was the leading scorer. As a seventh grader last season, she helped the Spartans go undefeated at 20-0 and win the South Florida Middle School Conference Tournament. She made the All Tournament team. Her coaches awarded her the Iron Woman Award in recognition of her dedication, commitment and heart. Jordan has also been named Middle School Female Athlete of the Week several times during her middle school basketball career. She was called up to varsity for the post-season the past two seasons.
Her first love since a very early age has been basketball, but she also played on her middle school’s varsity volleyball team that went undefeated while winning the South Florida Middle School Conference Championship.
Off the court, Jordan has been involved in Student Council since 6th grade. She serves as a class officer this year. Jordan has made the Headmaster’s List every semester with straight A’s. She is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. Last year during the Middle School Honors Awards Ceremony, she was awarded the Headmaster’s Award for Unselfish Service.
Tyler Zuluaga, 13, of North Miami maintains a 3.5 GPA in the gifted program at David Lawrence K-8. He plays basketball for the City of North Miami. He also plays flag football for the ALM travel team and club volleyball for Coastal Volleyball. He is into Mudruns like Spartan and Battle Frogs. He breathes and sleeps sports but still makes school involvement his top priority.
Youth league coaches, team reps, school coaches, administrators, teachers or family members nominated South Florida recreational, travel league, elementary school, middle school or junior varsity basketball players -- from fall, winter, spring or summer seasons -- who display sportsmanship and good grades or shows improvement in the classroom.
Each honoree received a certificate of achievement, a Heat gift pack, a Heat T-shirt, and two Heat tickets.
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