Rainey makes his collegiate choice

Arguably the best senior basketball player in the Houma-Thibodaux area has his future home.

H.L. Bourgeois senior guard A.J. Rainey announced last week that he’s signing with Blinn College – a two-year junior college in Texas.

Rainey averaged more than 30 points per game last year for the Braves – one of the most explosive, dynamic offensive players that the Houma-Thibodaux area has seen in many years.

He said he chose Blinn because he’s comfortable with the school’s coaches and players. He believes that the junior college will be able to polish his game and get him ready to sign with a four-year university in the back-end of his career.

Blinn has local roots.

Houma native and Vandebilt Catholic graduate Lionheart Leslie signed there out of high school. After two successful years, he then inked with Cal-State Fullerton, which catapulted him to the professional ranks.

“It feels good,” Rainey said when asked to elaborate on his choice. “I made a great choice in Blinn. I like the school a lot. I like that when I went up there, I felt like I was at home and that’s what I was looking for in a school. I just fell in love with Blinn.”

Rainey is likely to go to Texas and make a huge impact.

The senior guard was an absolute beast for the Braves last season, dominating opponents and posting video game-like numbers in several games, while also leading the Braves deep into the Class 5A State Playoffs.

Rainey is a multi-year letter winner for H.L. Bourgeois, but his role with the team has grown exponentially throughout his career.

He started as a spark-plug role player under some of the great Braves’ players in the past like Rayshawn Mart and others. Last year, he evolved and was the team’s point guard and one of the leading players in the area.

This past year, he emerged and evolved into a senior leader – a guy who did just about everything the Braves needed to pick up victories on any given night.

H.L. Bourgeois Andrew Caillouet said last season that as good as Rainey was on the court, he was equally good off it for his team.

He said the Braves’ younger players looked up to Rainey and he always did the best he could to keep the team’s locker room united and pushing in the same direction.

“He’s just a great senior leader,” Caillouet said. “He’s a great offensive player. He’s unselfish. He gets his guys involved and he makes the right play based on what the defense gives him. But what I think a lot of people don’t realize is that A.J. is a really good defensive player, as well. He really has worked hard to get better in that area of his game and I think he’s seen a lot of improvement there.”

So now, it’s time for a new challenge and Rainey said he’s eager to get to Blinn and soar.

He will depart for Texas this summer, but said that he is working tirelessly in the gym to make sure he’s ready to compete from day one on campus.

Because Blinn is a two-year junior college, Rainey will have just two seasons to make an impression to colleges across the country.

He said that makes every second precious and he doesn’t plan to waste any time before heading off to the next level.

“I want to just keep working on my shooting, my dribbling and my handles,” Rainey said. “I also want to work on my foot work, free throws and just everything. I shoot almost 300 shots every time I’m in the gym working out. I’m just working on everything.”

But no matter how many memories Rainey makes at the next level, he said nothing will ever be like his time with the Braves.

Rainey said being an H.L. Bourgeois Brave is something he will never forget.

The guard talked at length about the community support the team received during the past season. H.L. Bourgeois games were packed – almost like a community event. Even when the Braves went on the road, their fans traveled and filled up the seats of an opposing gym. Casual community basketball fans followed the team, as well – just to see what Rainey could do on a given night.

“It was nice being a Brave, man. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Rainey said. “I would like to thank all three of my coaches and the players I played with. It was a nice three years I had at the varsity level and I’m going to miss it. I just want to shout out my whole team.”

When asked what he wanted to do at Blinn, Rainey smiled and gave a predictable answer – one that local basketball fans probably could have guessed.

“My goals are to go there and drop buckets,” Rainey said with a laugh. “I want to get my school work done and get to a four-year college, as well.”

A.J. Rainey

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