At 6 a.m. March 7, most of the state’s high school boys basketball players were sound asleep.
For the vast majority, the season was already over. And even those with teams still alive in the WIAA sectional semifinals were likely still dreaming of moving within one victory of the state tournament.
Jordan Majeed had already worked himself into a full sweat at the local YMCA.
The Beloit Turner junior had toiled nearly a year in order to put the Trojans in position to win a sectional game for the first time in program history. And the work was not going to stop just because Turner was set to take on Rock Valley Conference rival Edgerton later that day.
By 7 p.m., the ball had tipped. And about 90 minutes later, Majeed had poured in 30 points on 11-of-14 shooting to help Turner hold off the Crimson Tide 57-53 in a Division 3 sectional semifinal.
“It’s 6 in the morning, and he’s at the YMCA in a full sweat. And, really, he did that all year long,” Turner head coach Ken Watkins said. “He was always in the gym—before school, at practice, then at the college or the Y afterward to get another hour or two of shooting in.
“A lot of guys like the idea of being good, but they don’t like it enough to sacrifice all the other comforts. Jordan does. He’s as driven a player as I’ve ever seen.”
That work ethic helped Majeed earn the title of The Gazette’s 2018-19 area boys basketball player of the year.
Majeed’s first love was football. Growing up in Arizona, that was the only sport he knew, he said.
But he and his family moved to Beloit in fifth grade, and it didn’t take long for Majeed to realize basketball was more of an option. By eighth grade, he had a new love.
“I knew I could be good,” Majeed said. “After playing in middle school, that’s when I started putting in the work.”
And that’s when his rise within the Turner program began.
During the summer heading into his freshman year, Majeed contacted Watkins to ask if there was a chance he could make the Trojans’ varsity roster that season.
“I told him I didn’t think it would be impossible, but it would be tough,” Watkins said. “He proved me wrong. He worked really, really hard, was in the gym just about every morning before school in the spring and then that fall when school started.
“There was no question he was good enough to play. And he wound up being our third-leading scorer that year.”
An injury kept Majeed from making the rise he had hoped for heading into his sophomore season. He suffered a stress fracture in his leg and wound up playing in the sixth-man role for the Trojans, still managing to average 9 points and 2.2 assists per game.
“I was just a mediocre player, because I didn’t get to put too much work in when I was injured,” Majeed said.
Healthy and back to his normal grind, Majeed was primed for a breakout junior season.
“I was ready, for sure,” Majeed said. “I put in a lot of work this past summer—more than once a day, every day. Just stayed committed.”
That commitment never waned.
Majeed averaged 18.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in earning first-team all-Rock Valley Conference honors.
He was held to single digits scoring just twice in 24 games—once in a blowout victory over Clinton and the other a nine-point effort against league champion East Troy.
“He’s such a great player, just so smooth,” Evansville coach Kendall Buttchen said. “He can get to the rim with ease and has a great outside shot, as well, so he’s a great dual threat.
“We had trouble stopping him. And then you give him a step so that he doesn’t blow by you, and he’ll hit a 3. He can change the game at the drop of a hat.”
And Majeed seemed to thrive in many of Turner’s most critical games.
He scored a career-high 43 points in a 78-63 victory over McFarland. Two games later, he had 35 in earning a season sweep of Evansville.
The 30-point effort in the sectional semi was the icing on the cake of a standout postseason run. Majeed made 27 of 42 field goal attempts (64.3 percent) in Turner’s three tournament victories. Toss in an 18-point game in the sectional-final loss to eventual state champion Martin Luther, and he finished with 90 points in four tournament games.
“The bigger games is when they (my teammates) relied on me more, and I was ready all season if they needed me,” Majeed said. “I really block out everything else and just play.
“I knew against Edgerton what I had to do. That was a must-win for me. I got in the gym that morning and everything.”
Majeed said his work will not stop this offseason. He has visions of the Trojans reaching the state tournament next season for the first time in program history. To get there, he believes he must work on his leadership skills while continuing to put in the hours in the gym.
And to that end, Watkins said he also learned something from Majeed’s in-season work ethic that he will implement going forward.
“It’s convinced me to do more of the individual skill development during practices in-season,” Watkins said. “Because at the end of the year, would you rather have five good plays or five good players?
“He just exploded this season, and got better as it went along. I’ve never seen a player improve more during the course of one season.”
The early-morning workouts will continue.
And after a breakout season, no one will be sleeping on Majeed.