WRHS Jersey Retirement for James Nunnally
Former Weston Ranch student James Nunnally is one of the first alumni in Manteca Unified School District to make it to a professional sport by playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA.
The WRHS Cougars invited Nunnally to attend the McClymond Warriors game on December 11th so they could formally retire high school basketball jersey—number twenty-one.
This inspirational event brought faculty, students and families together in the Weston Ranch community.
Nunnally said, “Believe in yourself because the day you stop believing, there is somebody else out there who is believing and working just as hard—or twice as hard—as you.”
Many people who are a part of Nunnally’s extraordinary journey came to support his accomplishment. This included his mother, wife, two daughters, cousins, uncles, brothers, friends, and a few Minnesota Timberwolves team members—Derek Rose, Anthony Tolliver, and Orlando Johnson.
Former coach Bill Slikker came to the jersey retirement before the varsity game to share positive words about Nunally’s “brilliant career” and fond memories about his years attending Weston Ranch from 2004 to 2008.
“He set many school records and led his team to league championships and section final appearances,” said Slikker. “James was named unanimous MVP for the VOLs his Junior and Senior years. He was also named player of the year by the Stockton Central Valley.”
Slikker added, “His achievements on the court and in the classroom led to James receiving a full ride scholarship to UC Santa Barbara. After completing his studies at Santa Barbara, he played a brief stint in the NBA and had a very successful career overseas. James’ journey to reach the NBA showed his hard work and never giving up on himself.”
Nunnally’s jersey retirement has been described as a proud moment by so many. Through it all he remained humbly grateful.
“I think that’s what they really want to see, that you are dedicated. You don’t have to be the smartest person to be the most successful,” said Nunnally. “People who work the hardest are always going to make it. This is what education has taught me.”
During the event, Nunnally signed autographs and took pictures with many people. This was an opportunity for him to also see his former teachers and coach Eddie Menzel from his freshmen year in 2004.
Nunnally described his years at Weston Ranch High School as unforgettable. “Basketball made every problem go away once we got to practice, once we got to the game, and once we were together.” Nunnally stated.
He had great chemistry with his teammates and they would always spend a lot of time together.
Nunnally was grateful to have gone to Weston Ranch High school. “I almost went to St. Mary’s on a football scholarship, but I’m glad my mom persuaded me to come here.”
As Nunnally explained, he made memories that would last a lifetime at Weston Ranch. “I loved representing Weston Ranch playing basketball. It was really big to me to go out there to try and make Weston Ranch the best team in the valley, and in the state. That was always a goal.”
In the WRHS gym, James Nunnally’s jersey number twenty-one will be hung upon the walls for generations of students to see and be inspired by his actions and perseverance. Although his actual jersey could not be displayed, a banner hangs with his name, number, and pictures of him playing in high school, college, and as a current team member for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I am just humble to be in the NBA,” said Nunnally. “It’s a great opportunity that not many get, and I am just taking it day by day.”
The retirement of his jersey was a symbolic recognition to the game of basketball at Weston Ranch High School. It is an honor for Nunnally to be looked up to by so many for pursuing his career in basketball and he is thankful to have had such a great support system to get him to where he is now.