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Milton hoops star is defying the odds
by Chase Wallace
cwallace@neighbornewspapers.com
January 09, 2013 12:05 PM | 2298 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Erin Gray -- Milton junior shooting guard Zach Hodskins is averaging 10 points per game and is the Eagles’ leading three-point threat this season.
Staff / Erin Gray -- Milton junior shooting guard Zach Hodskins is averaging 10 points per game and is the Eagles’ leading three-point threat this season.
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One glance at the Milton basketball court and Zach Hodskins is just another talented Eagle, just another AAU standout with a college dream, just another rising star on a program that has been home to countless All-Region and All-State basketball players in the last six years.

His shot is as pure as any, his release the quickest on the team, and he dribbles and passes the ball with an effortlessness that collegiate scouts drool over.

But a closer glance at the 6-foot-3 shooting guard reveals something more, something more impressive than the droves of points he scores every night, something more eye-popping than the blistering 48 percent he is shooting from behind the arc.

Hodskins does it all without a left arm.

“I’ve never seen an athlete like Zach before and I’m pretty sure you aren’t going to find anymore like him,” said Milton basketball coach Van Keys, who has 29 years of coaching experience. “The most amazing thing is that once he gets going you can’t even tell he has a handicap. He plays so hard and he is so good at what he does…well it’s just amazing really.”

Hodskins, who hails from Brentwood, Tenn., was born without the lower half of his left arm but was drawn to athletics as a child. Playing baseball and soccer as a youngster, he ditched the two for what he called his first love — basketball.

“My father really taught me at a young age. Just how to shoot, how to dribble and how to catch,” said Hodskins, who began playing at an organized level in the third grade.

“Catching was the hardest thing to pick up at first, but as my right hand got bigger, things got easier.”

As Hodskins got older and bigger, he also got better. Defenders began trying to limit his offensive prowess by overplaying his right side and forcing him left, but like he has done many times in life, Hodskins was quick to adapt.

“That’s one thing I’m used to now because I know that is how everyone is going to play me,” he said. “As long as I keep my right foot in front and right shoulder in front they can’t reach across and get the steal.

“At this point I don’t find many things hard to do on the court anymore.”

On the court Hodskins has had an instant impact for Keys and the Eagles. The junior has started all but one game for Milton — which he missed with an injury — is third on the team in scoring at over 10 points per game, and is the Eagles’ primary three-point threat from the outside.

“He really gives us a big boost on the offensive end and has definitely ended up being our best shooter from long range,” said Keys of Hodskins, who hit seven three-pointers in an early season game against the Christ School, a nationally ranked team that hails from North Carolina.

“But he brings a lot more to the court than that, he is a great passer and creator and brings a ton of competitiveness, fire and emotion to our team.”

Hodskins play is also drawing college interest from the likes of the University of Alabama-Birmingham and others. Earning a scholarship is something Keys said he definitely expects Hodskins to do in the next two years and something Zach said he has put his mind to as an ultimate goal.

“That’s my goal and I’m just going to keep working on my game like nobody is watching,” he said. “If I put my mind towards doing something, I know I can make it happen.”
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