It's junior year, and Division I schools are lining up to stake their claims to Indianapolis b-ball phenom Derrick Bowen.
D-Bow is certainly older and a little bit wiser than in his first two outings, Next (2013) and Slump (2014). He begins this year without irrepressible teammate Moose, now graduated, and beautiful and brilliant Jasmine is growing ever distant, eyes on her prize. Best friend Wes, too, is pulling away, hanging with bangers and blazing up, and little brother Jayson is withdrawing. On the bright side, there's the fiine Lia Stone, in whom D-Bow might find a balanced relationship. Readers who have followed D-Bow through his first two years at Marion East will find themselves slipping effortlessly back into his life, his candid, present-tense narration comfortably familiar. Punctuating the now-typical rhythms of his basketball season—tension with gruff coach Bolden, the realignment of the starting five with the new year, D-Bow's increasing responsibilities as a team leader, and, of course, lovingly described hoops action—are the letters and phone calls from college coaches eager to sign D-Bow's unquestioned talent. Though Waltman has given his protagonist enormous advantages, he doesn't make life easy on him; D-Bow's success is not assured, and both he and readers finish the year genuinely wondering if high-level college ball is really in his future.
Waltman continues to keep it both real and fresh for D-Bow. (Fiction. 14-18)