Derrick “D-Bow” Bowen returns for his sophomore year at Indianapolis’ Marion East and this second volume in the D-Bow’s High School Hoops series.
Having just been edged out by archrivals Hamilton Academy last year at Regionals, this year Derrick and his teammates plan to beat them—and then some. But the season starts badly. Key senior Devin injures his ankle, and the bench just can’t compensate. Moreover, even though Derrick’s got good looks, he just can’t seem to sink that rock. He’s got troubles off the court, too: Jasmine is tired of basketball talk, and even though she seems to like making out as much as Derrick does, she’s not ready to take things further. And money continues to be tight in the Bowen household, a nagging problem that becomes a crisis when his father is sidelined by a car accident. As in series opener Next (2013), Waltman balances blazing hoops action against Derrick’s emotional growth. He and Coach Bolden continue to butt heads, but this year Derrick is better able to trust him; their developing relationship is complex and gratifying. Also nuanced is Derrick’s emerging sexuality; he learns quickly that losing his virginity comes with complications. Waltman leaves some threads dangling for future volumes: Best friend Wes is struggling with his own issues, and likable, layabout Uncle Kid’s shenanigans prompt unease.
With its deft balance of play-by-play action and off-the-court drama, this series scores. (Fiction. 12-18)