McGavock guard Marvin Hughes, wearing No. 30, helped the Raiders basketball team to their first district title in 30 years with an 89-66 drubbing of Cane Ridge on Feb. 25. 

“No. 30 probably won’t be worn [at McGavock] for a while,” said boys basketball coach Paul Childress.

Hughes earned District 12-AAA MVP honors as a junior in 2018-19 and capped his high school career with more than 2,200 total points. He also made a 32 on the ACT and carried a 3.85 grade-point average – rare marks for any student, let alone an athlete preoccupied by games and practices.

Despite those achievements, Hughes’ college recruitment didn’t take off like he and his coaches thought. The recent graduate committed to Jacksonville State this month as a walk-on with an academic scholarship.

Hughes said he wants to have the final word, especially when the Gamecocks play other mid-major programs that passed on offering him a scholarship.

“I want to show them what they missed out on and show them I’m better than the recruits they picked over me,” he said. “I’m going to show out when we play them.”

Two of those schools – Belmont and Tennessee State – are in the Ohio Valley Conference with Jacksonville State, providing the 6-foot-1 Hughes multiple opportunities per season to prove his worth.

“It’s kind of cool that he is going to play in the same conference as TSU and Belmont, which are two schools that didn’t offer him,” Childress said. “That [adds] a lot of fuel to his fire, believe me.”

But Hughes won’t just be playing college basketball out of bitterness. He will be playing for his father, Marvin Hughes Sr., who was killed during a home invasion in Hermitage in February 2018.

“[My father] would be proud of me and just tell me that [college] isn’t like high school. It’s not going to be that easy to get 30 points, and it’s just time to prove everybody wrong and make it out,” the younger Hughes said.

Just three days after his father’s death, Hughes led McGavock to a come-from-behind, 63-57 victory over Hillwood by scoring 11 fourth-quarter points in the District 12-AAA tournament quarterfinals.

Marvin Hughes Jr. still thinks about his father every time he takes the floor.

“I was able to [return] because of the love that both of us shared for basketball, and I know that he wouldn’t want me to stop playing because our goal was for me to make it out,” Hughes said. “Every time I step on the court, I think about that, and it just motivates me more not knowing that he’s not here to watch me.”

Childress said, “He came back and kept it together academically and on the court. Never used it as a crutch. Never missed classes or practices…it was unbelievable to see a young man come back from a tragedy like that and succeed.”

Hughes joins the Webb School’s Javonte Platt from Smyrna as the second guard from Middle Tennessee in Jacksonville State’s 2020 recruiting class. While Hughes said he can contribute at either point or shooting guard, he also wants to maintain his academic success. He plans to study sports medicine. 

“The classroom is the most important thing because one day the basketball will stop bouncing and I’m going to need something to fall back on,” he said.

Childress acknowledged that Hughes “set a precedent at McGavock to be great.” Hughes averaged 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and two steals per game as a senior last season, and his former coach believes more success awaits at the next level – on and off the court.

“He made a tremendous impact,” Childress said. “You’ve got kids in the community that look up to him, not just because he’s a good basketball player, but because he’s a good kid. People want to follow in his footsteps.

“You can’t say enough about him. He always had a dream of playing Division I basketball, and he’s going to get to live that dream.”

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