Folkes pg 4 10-15-20

PSA's Folkes
to UNC-
For Zay Folkes, it wasn’t so much when UNC Charlotte offered, but what they offered.
So even though the 49ers were the second-to-last school to offer him a scholarship, Folkes, a 6-foot, 4-inch guard in his first year at PSA, felt his relationship with the head coach and a chance to play as a freshman in a style that fits him made the Conference USA school the perfect fit. On Friday, he announced his commitment to Ron Sanchez’s program.
“I built a great relationship with them, and they built a great one with my family, especially my mom,” Folkes said. “The first time I talked to (Sanchez), it wasn’t even about basketball. It was about making me into a better person. Then as we got to know each other more, we started talking about basketball.
“Some people when they commit still have that worry in there about if it’s going to be the right school for them. But I have no doubts. None at all. No weird feeling. I just knew it was right. I know I picked the right place.”
Folkes, a wildly athletic pass-first playmaker from Manassas, Va., credits his father with pushing him to this point, calling his dad both “my No. 1 hater and my No. 1 supporter at the same time. He always saw my talent in basketball and he pushed me hard. If I had a good game, he would always point out the negative things. He knew I could take the criticism and I would use it as motivation just to prove him wrong.”
Folkes is a tenacious defender and isn’t afraid of the work necessary to grow his game. He said that back home he would be up to start workouts at 4:30 a.m. and go until noon. He’d have the rest of the day off, get to bed early, and start over again the next day.
“We call it Mamba Hours,” he said. “It gets you out of your comfort zone. Some people just want to work out when they want to work out. But if you’re uncomfortable and you keep with it, that’s your best chance to get better.”
Folkes said he was a short, skinny freshman with stick-like arms but started lifting weights and packing on muscle. He grew about 4 inches to 6-foot as a sophomore and started to grow into his game. His athleticism came as a junior, but he admits to losing some focus and not working as hard as he had been.
“I was relying more on just natural, God-given talent,” he said. “And then I realized I could do something special with it. I wanted to be a pro. I felt like I might as well put the work in and be great. I got tired of people sleeping on me and just saying I was all right. I had something to prove and it motivated me.”
Folkes is the fourth member of this year’s team to commit to a Division I school, joining Bensley Joseph (University of Miami), Elijah Hutchins-Everett (Penn State), and Sean Durugordon (University of Missouri).
Stephen Nalbandian
Sports Information Director
Putnam Science Academy


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