Call him an impact player. Call him a catalyst. Call him a marquee player. Call him a savior. Whatever he's called, he's sure to shake up the county basketball world this season.
He's Javier Michaux, and he's the new kid on the block, a transfer from North Carolina. To championship-starved Howard High basketball fans, he's the second coming of Michael Jordan.
Granted the season is young, and Michaux has yet to prove himself against the league's best teams, but first impressions indicate he may help crown the Lions as county champions by the end of the season. He'll at least keep them in the thick of the race.
Michaux's first shot as a Howard Lion -- and Howard's first basket in a now highly promising season -- was a dunk so powerful that the backboard swayed for several seconds.
The eye-opening dunk, in particular the extension of his arms and the height of his leap, sent chills through everyone who saw it.
"I couldn't believe the effortlessness of it," Hammond coach Jack Burke said.
"He is one of the best players I've seen around here in a long while. He's skilled. He's quick. He's athletic. He has a nose for the ball and the basket. He's very impressive. He may just turn out to be the best player in the league."
That extraordinary dunk proved merely the first act in an accomplished performance -- one elevated far above any recent county boys basketball debut.
Michaux may become the savior of a Howard basketball program that won only five games last season and hasn't won a county championship since 1975.
Howard has had many talented players in recent years but none as skilled as Michaux.
"I think he has the potential to play Division I college basketball," Howard coach Kevin Broadus said. "At what level is yet to be determined."
The 6-foot-5 junior had 22 points, 16 rebounds, four steals and two assists in that first game last Tuesday, a 90-51 rout of Liberty.
And he played just three quarters, because Broadus, the Lions' first-year coach, sat down most of his starters in the fourth quarter.
Michaux scored 11 points that first quarter on the dunk, three layups and three free throws. In the second period he made a 15-foot jumper, a layup and two more free throws. In the third period he scored two baskets off rebounds and made two more free throws.
He played outside defensively and underneath on offense. Michaux guarded Liberty's best shooter, Mike Davidson, who scored 29 points in Liberty's 85-78 season-opening win over Francis Scott Key. Davidson got 11 against Howard.
Michaux showed he can do it all -- shoot, dribble, pass, rebound and play defense. And he does it with an apparent ease and smoothness that is obviously the result of countless hours of practice.
Michaux showed he was human against Liberty. He missed four free throws and was called for goal-tending on a shot he blocked that was well above the rim.
His parents, Joe and Evergreen, describe Michaux as focused and intense.
"You should see the way he decorates his room and you'd know that all he thinks about is basketball," his mother said.
"He's been playing all his life and usually he plays with older guys," his father said.
His family moved to the Howard school district in July.
The school he played for last year, West Caldwell High School in Lenoir, N.C., was so strong he was only its sixth man. He averaged 15 points.
Four of those West Caldwell starters were recruited to Division I colleges, Michaux said.
Broadus, who didn't know about Michaux until school started, counts himself blessed to have gotten him.
"He's a ballplayer. He's very bright. He's a leader. He has good instincts and nice speed. He plays taller than he is," Broadus said.
"But I think there's a lot of room for improvement. I think he's capable of playing bigger -- up to whatever the competition level is."