Antwann Antonio is a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the son of Julie Lacapa from San Carlos and Reggie Antonio of White Mountain Apache. Currently a Junior at Desert Mountain High School in Phoenix, Antonio has transitioned from rez baller to high school basketball starter.
Antonio’s memories of his start in basketball are blurred, yet he recalls, “I started playing basketball when I was young. I was surrounded by the game and I just fell in love with the sport of basketball.” Growing up on the court, Antonio’s biggest support came from his family. Coming from a family who played basketball, everyone was courtside supporting Antonio every step of the way. “My dad inspired me to play basketball. He has definitely been my biggest influence and has always been my mentor. He taught me how to play, how to work hard and that to get to the next level I have to dedicate myself and work to get there,” stated Antonio.
Before stepping onto the court, Antonio always prepares himself with focus, reflection of his goals and motivates himself knowing that in order to play he has to also perform well in the classroom. Playing basketball for a large metro-area school, his parents have always reinforced that to play, his grades must be maintained in his classes and that he must work just as hard off the court for academic achievement than he does on the court.
“I love the sport of basketball and I love playing it. I think it is important that other youth from the reservation realize that school should always come before sports. To be good sportsmen, we have to have positive attitudes on and off the court and we have to be able to be proud of our work in every aspect of our lives,” said Antonio.
Antonio is a starting member of the boys varsity basketball team at Desert Mountain, which is in the Division 1 section of the Arizona Interscholastic Association. Division 1 consists of schools who have several thousand students enrolled, the largest division in the state of Arizona. Throughout the season Desert Mountain has had to play many tough games against teams like the #1 state ranked and #13 nationally ranked Corona Del Sol Aztecs. Regardless of wins, Antonio prides himself on his Apache roots, knowing that as a young Apache, he is pursuing his dreams and playing a sport that he not only fell in love with, but is also his passion.
As a high school Junior, Antonio is undecided on his college career and won’t be making any decisions on where he will attend until he is a senior. However, Antonio is ambitious and determined to progress from high school basketball to college basketball.
“It doesn’t matter where we live. What matters is that we stay strong to our Apache roots, work hard, perform at the best of our abilities, remain focused on our goals and be proud that our Apache people are well represented throughout Arizona in high school sports. I hope that back home, athletes like myself give our people a sense of pride. I don’t only want to make my family and people back home proud, but I also want to be a good role model for our youth, because if we are focused and determined, we can accomplish anything,” stated Antonio.
As high school basketball wraps up for the season, Antonio will continue to contribute to the success of the Desert Mountain boys varsity team and use his early rez baller skills to grow as an athlete and pursue his education and athletic dreams. After the Super Sectional Tournaments end this weekend the Arizona Interscholastic Association will announce on Sunday who will be making the State Playoffs. Currently Desert Mountain Wolves are sitting at #23 in the MaxPreps Power Points. The top 24 teams will make the State Tournament.