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Most successful athletic teams have a guy that is an unsung hero-a guy or gal that sort of flies under the radar. And for the Sallisaw Black Diamonds that guy is junior Tanner Mings who plays a guard spot in basketball and in the outfield in baseball. First-year basketball coach Chadd Gehrke describes Mings this way.

“He’ll do all the little things for his team. He’s the kind of guy that flies under the radar. He’s not going to stand out as the star player if you watch a game but at the end of the night you’d probably say ‘he had a good game’. He can take you on the dribble which is probably his strength or he can pull up and hit from the outside.”

Tanner loves both sports but for somewhat different reasons.

“I like basketball because of the competitiveness and just getting up and down the floor plus the closeness of your teammates. I like the atmosphere of baseball and knowing if you have a bad game on day, you can turn around and have a great game a day or two later.”

Tanner credits his dad with always being there to help him in his sports endeavors and pointed him towards a role model that Mings says helped his game.

“I really like to watch Russell Westbrook and the way he plays and pushes the ball up the court. When I was a younger I had a problem with that and dad got me to watching Westbrook when I was probably in the third grade or so and I think I learned a lot about playing guard from watching him.”

Mings has played AAU basketball in the summer since the sixth grade and feels that’s been a factor in how he’s progressed over the years.

“Playing AAU ball has really helped me in school ball because in AAU you’re generally playing teams that are more athletic and sometimes older than what you have in school ball so it helps you develop skills at a faster pace while you’re almost playing at another level.”

Another person who has impacted Tanner’s life is a former coach and now school administrator.

“Brad Johnson was my coach some in elementary school and in junior high and now he’s the vice principal at the high school. He’s always been there for me if I needed advice.”

In his spare time Tanner likes to hang with friends or maybe fish or workout. But you can bet this summer he’ll be working on improving his rebounding and upping his scoring average as he gets ready for next fall and winter.

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