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From Tigers to movie stars

Filmmakers follow JR boys’ basketball team for online docuseries.
TIGERS+ON+TV+-+The+Jackson-Reed+varsity+basketball+team+now+has+a+camera+crew+following+them+around+for+a+documentary.+
Eli Schwartz
TIGERS ON TV – The Jackson-Reed varsity basketball team now has a camera crew following them around for a documentary.

Perennial success in sports is bound to get you noticed. For the Jackson-Reed boys basketball team, that means a documentary crew following them around all season. 

Northern Virginia-based video production company De La Villa will be covering the Tigers on and off the court. De La Villa is owned by brothers Naeem, a filmmaker, and Muhammad Darab, a JR biology teacher. For now, the brothers are posting short films and vlogs to Instagram Reels and YouTube under the title “Run It Back,” which is also the team’s motto for 2023-24. After the season, they plan to release a full documentary series on YouTube about the team. 

“It’s been good to have a camera crew and media with us this season,” said senior point guard Justin Gilmore. “It feels like the next level due to the cameras always being around us. It allows us to mentally prepare for the media and to always be on point for them.”

The production company has posted seven vlogs so far, including recaps of preseason scrimmages against Good Counsel High School in Olney, Md., and Patriot High School in Nokesville, Va. In addition, the channel has a behind-the-scenes look at the team’s media day last month. De La Villa Productions currently has 3,350 subscribers on YouTube. The company’s top video has more than 7,000 views, and the Jackson-Reed content has garnered around 500 views per episode so far.

“With any media outlet coming in and covering us, it’s more exposure for our players,” said Tigers head coach David “Tee” Johnson. “Trying to get them an opportunity to be seen and trying to give people a day-to-day look at Jackson-Reed’s program.”

The production duo is showcasing more than just the on-court action, as they did in a YouTube series last year covering the boys’ basketball team at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Va., which finished 30-1 and won the state championship. De La Villa inquired about covering the Tigers because they were the only team that beat Hayfield. 

“Every episode we try to look into every player,” Muhammad Darab said. “It all depends on what they’re able to share with us. We want to show challenges, whether it’s on or off the court, to show their resilience, to show their character.”

The series about Jackson-Reed gives an in-depth look of the season, nine months after losing to Sidwell Friends in the DC state finals. As of December 17, the team had a 7-1 record, with notable wins over the 4-3 WCAC private Bishop McNamara, nationally ranked Archbishop Ryan of Philadelphia and finishing second in the Gonzaga DC Classic to city powerhouse Gonzaga College High School earlier this month. 

“The first [set of] games were great team wins, and we knew there were some things we have to work on still,” said senior small forward Scottie Hubbard. “The loss in our fifth game uncovered our individual and team weaknesses that we have to work on.”

The docuseries is covering the Tigers as they claw through a nationally competitive schedule. Later this month, the team will play in the Mid-Atlantic Showcase in Bowie, Md., and take a road trip to Bristol, Tenn., for the 18-team Arby’s Classic. In January, the Tigers will play in the Behan Strong Classic at St. John’s, HoopBuzz Invitational in Oxon Hill, Md., the St. James M.L.K. Classic in Springfield, Va., and the IMG Classic in Bradenton, Fla. In between, Jackson-Reed will play five DCIAA conference games. 

The Darab brothers said they aren’t getting paid by Jackson-Reed to make the series. But they hope their work will create opportunities in the sports business. “Our intention is to make our best work and let God handle the rest,” Naeem Darab said. 

GAMETIME TIP-OFF: Junior small forward #2 Jayden Fort jumps at center court against Archbishop Ryan on Dec. 8.
Also Pictured: #11 junior small forward J.J. Massaquoi (Eli Schwartz)

“They work hard,” assistant coach Bill Bourgouin said about the production crew. “By mid-season, they’re comfortable with the guys and we’re comfortable with them. It’s nothing but positive of what they bring to the table.” 

“The players are talented, skilled, and respectful,” said Naeem Darab. “The players are truly blessed to have such a wonderful group of coaches to guide them and prepare them for the next level.”

Throughout the rest of the season, the De La Villa crew will be on the sidelines, capturing every moment. 

“It brings a different aspect to the program, a lot of times even teachers themselves can discount the amount of work the athletes put in,” Bourgouin said. “It kind of shows the athletes in a different way than just the court [in terms of] preparation and development. It brings more than just what’s in between the lines.”

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About the Contributors
Justin Glenn, Assistant Sports Editor
Justin is a sports fanatic.. you’ll most likely see him with a baseball cap of some sort throughout the hallways. If he isn’t writing about high school sports, he’s likely watching a D.C. sports team, NASCAR or some other professional league in his free time. Outside of sports, he enjoys the outdoors and watching Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, besides that, he’s an average out-going person.
  • 2023-24: Assistant Sports Editor
Eli Schwartz, Assistant Director of Art and Design
  • 2022-23: Senior Photo Editor
  • 2023-24: Assistant Director of Art and Design
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