As Byron Westmoreland walked into the Reisterstown Road Plaza for the interview, you can’t help but notice the confidence he has in himself. Westmoreland is a local product from East Baltimore who was introduced to the sport of basketball at a young age by his mother Sherry Jones.
“Growing up in East Baltimore, she didn’t want me to get subjected to any negativity,” said Westmoreland. “So her way of keeping me out of trouble is putting a basketball in my hand and put me in organized basketball.”
It didn’t take too long for Byron to get the hang of it with this game. Byron got good quickly. “When I was young, I was kind of raw because I never really played organized basketball at first,” said Westmoreland. “Once I stepped on the court with people that have been playing for years, this was my first time in the gym and I looked a lot better than all of those guys. So (I figured) maybe I should take this seriously.”
That revelation eventually led Westmoreland to attend Mergenthaler High School (Mervo to most Baltimoreans). Byron had his choice of high schools to go to and played for. However, Byron wanted to challenge himself. “I chose Mervo because in order for us to be great, I would have to be the dominant player. I didn’t want to go to school with other dominant players,” said Westmoreland. “I wanted to make a name for myself. That’s what I did at Mervo by winning championships or whatnot.”
Among Byron’s interests are reading, tweeting and watching the Food Network. In particular with the Food Network, Byron loves breakfast. He says that he can eat breakfast all day. According to Byron, he likes to cook French toast and pancakes.
Making a huge impact in Byron’s life early and often was Mervo head coach Daryl Williams. Byron said, “Because still to this day, he is one of my top five supporters out there. He makes sure everything is going smooth with me. If I ever need anything, I call him. We had the best relationship in high school. But now, it’s grown. I respect him as a man.”
After Mervo, Byron went to Baltimore City Community College and helped lead the Panthers to the Maryland JUCO State championship in 2010. Not too long after that, Byron decided to go to Bowie State University.
With his talents, Byron could’ve easily been at a Division I school. But his reasons for choosing Bowie State is something familiar to most folks. “I decided to go to Bowie State because I felt comfortable there as well as my family could come to all the games to support,” said Westmoreland. “I’m big on family and I wanted to stay close to them.”
While at Bowie State, there was an adjustment period. For those who play college sports, it’s a couple levels above everything. That included JUCO basketball. It wasn’t easy for Byron, but he craves a challenge and that’s where he would eventually thrive. “I had my growing pains. Went through a couple of bad experiences on the court,” said Westmoreland. “But I think it made me who I am today. Because I took a leap of faith and went to Bowie State instead of staying at BCCC.”
During his senior year, Westmoreland averaged 23.4 points, six rebounds and 1.9 steals a game. Westmoreland helped lead Bowie State win the CIAA Tournament and advance to the NCAA Division II Tournament this past March. The Bulldogs lost to the #1 team in the country West Liberty State in the first round of the Atlantic Regional. But it proved to be quite the ride for Westmoreland.
“The CIAA Tournament this year was kind of my coming out party on a national level,” said Byron. “I’ve done some great things locally at Bowie State and inside the CIAA. But when I went into that tournament, all the games were televised and I just basically dominated the whole tournament.”
People have been trying to define Byron’s game most of his life. Byron said about his game, “Folks say I play like Jamal Crawford or J.R. Smith because I can come in and score a lot of points real quick. But at the same time, I still got my own style. I don’t try to (copy) anyone else’s style.”
Byron put his name in the hat to go to the NBA Draft. Though no one has picked him right now, he won’t give up easily. Byron is currently looking at going overseas to play at the moment. There is a chance he could be signed as a free agent with an NBA team to try out.
When asked what he had learned from his days at Mervo, BCCC and Bowie State Byron said, “I learned that the underdogs can really prevail.”
Here’s hoping that this young man will continue to prevail in his career.