RJS Basketball Founder Rickey Sullivan Continuing Emergence as a Top Basketball Trainer
Presented By South Jersey Sports Zone
MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. -- Throughout the years, Rickey Sullivan has evolved as one of the premier basketball trainers in South Jersey.
Let’s rephrase that.
Sullivan continues to emerge as one of the most prominent basketball skills trainers in the entire tri-state area, extending beyond the confines of the traditional seven-county South Jersey region.
The lengthy list of talent that has walked through his doors continues to grow in significance by the day. Sullivan’s brand, Run Jump Shoot Basketball, better known as RJS Basketball, prepares interscholastic players for the next level.
Exhibit A: Archbishop Wood’s Marcus Randolph.
The 6-foot-5 senior combo guard and 2021 Philadelphia Catholic League champion is an illustration of Sullivan’s quality work.
Randolph emerged as one of the most talented up-and-coming players in South Jersey as a freshman at Willingboro in 2018.
Following his sophomore year, Randolph transferred to Archbishop Wood (PA) and recently committed to Richmond.
“He was an All-American nominee,” Sullivan said. “I would have to say, that’s my first ever (client selected). That was big. He’s an animal. He loves to be in the gym -- he’s a gym rat. Seven days a week -- he’s calling and we’re in the gym.”
Randolph isn’t the only overachiever.
“Last season, I had ten high school players who scored over 1,000 (career) points,” Sullivan said. “I don’t know too many guys who put up 10,000 on the board last year. That was something special. A lot of those guys that did it, I’ve been training since fourth or fifth grade.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic intensified, Sullivan was forced to make adjustments. While most individuals would’ve folded under the difficult circumstances, Sullivan prospered. If anything, the pandemic was a blessing in-disguise.
“There weren't very many gyms open at all,” Sullivan said. “I was working probably up to 150 clients during that time. I had a heavy load going on. I’m just happy that I was able to have an opportunity to get all these people in the gym and make sure they were straight going into the season.”
Health and safety became the top priority.
“Luckily, none of my kids happened to come down with (COVID-19),” Sullivan said. “ That was a good thing. I had a good friend of mine, he was coming in constantly — spraying the balls down, spraying the building, just making sure everybody was safe. That was a major key — just to be able to make sure I could stay open and make sure everybody stays safe.”
The lengthy list of players that trained with Sullivan included a true freshman who’s making his NCAA Tournament debut on Saturday and a handful of notable high school players.
“I had Jamir Watkins, who’s now at VCU, there,” Sullivan said. “I had DaJuan Wagner (Jr.) who came through. (Camden’s) Cornelius Robinson, Marcus (Randolph) who just signed with Richmond. He was there with me as well. I had another premier junior college player in Latrell Reid. I had (Coppin State’s) Reggie James, he’s out in the MEAC conference. EJ Evans, he was in the gym with me as well. He’s been really working hard. He’s over at Covenant (College) Prep. I forgot to shoutout Jordan Martin, who’s over at Harcum -- 1,000-point scorer (at Bordentown Regional High School). He was in the gym with me this summer as well.”
Sullivan and his clients took pride in the intensity of their workouts. For those working out at Run Jump Shoot Basketball, hooping became a full-time job.
“We were working out six o’clock in the morning,” Sullivan said. “Every single day, seven days a week. They were getting after it, intensity was great. They just wanted to lock in. That was the biggest thing. They wanted to lock in every single day. No matter what time of the day or night it was, we were in the gym. They made the call and I was there.”
Robinson is another developing player that has exemplified Sullivan’s craft. The Camden High School sophomore came off the bench for a loaded Panthers squad that has won 38 consecutive games dating back to last season. Robinson currently holds offers from Texas A&M and Bryant.
“I’ve trained with him for a few years,” Sullivan said. “I love his game, I love his energy. He’s one of those guys that you never have to worry about. His energy is there every time he touches the floor. He does all the little things and that’s what counts in winning the game.”
The extensive list of talent has even trickled down to the middle school level. Sullivan has grown familiar with up-and-coming players that the average high school basketball fan may not have heard of yet.
But that unfamiliarity won’t last for long.
Sullivan is making sure their talents and hard work doesn’t go noticed.
“For the 2025 class, I had Deuce Maxey, Judah Hidalgo — who’s (ranked) number 15 in the country, eighth grader,” Sullivan said. Mel Jones, who’s at Life Center. That’s just to name a few. I have a couple guys over in the Philadelphia area as well.”
The RJS Basketball founder has even paid his due diligence in the South Jersey girls basketball world.
Paul VI guard Hannah Hidalgo headlines the list of talented females that have trained with Sullivan. Hidalgo averaged 20.2 points per game and was named a South Jersey Sports Zone All-South Jersey First Team selection in 2021.
Sullivan has also trained two under-the-radar players -- Rancocas Valley’s Miyah Dawson and Life Center’s Jaylin VanDunk.
“Hannah Hidalgo is awesome,” Sullivan said. “She’s an eye-catcher from the moment she touches the floor. I had Miyah Dawson, who’s a freshman at RV right now who’s going to be an up-and-coming player in the class of 2024. I see her having a bright future at RV. She’s showing great, big strides. Another girl I had was Jaylin VanDunk who’s at Life Center.”
Sullivan’s localized work has also been highlighted in the Burlington County Scholastic League. Rasheem Harris, a junior at Florence Memorial High School, averaged 19.9 points per game in 2021. Pemberton Township High School’s Cameron Downs tallied 16.5 points per game. Both players trained with Sullivan prior to the 2021 season.
The high school basketball season may have concluded in New Jersey, but for RJS Basketball it’s just beginning to heat up.
As the weather gets warmer and student-athletes begin to transition into their offseason workouts, Sullivan will be releasing a documentary to showcase his superb work.
“The documentary will be coming out probably in the next two months,” Sullivan said. “It’s RJS:The Tour. I just take you through the grind of how it all started out to how it’s all evolved -- going from three clients to 250-plus clients. It’s been a pleasure. It’s something that’s been in the works for a while. I kind of been dragging my feet, it should’ve been out already.”
Throughout the course of the brand’s development, Sullivan added a promising colleague in trainer Chance Patterson. The addition has allowed Sullivan to bring on somebody that he can trust and help balance the workload -- a responsibility that is critical to the brand’s growth.
“He’s a very up-and-coming guy,” Sullivan said. “He’s spectacular in the gym. I see a bright future for him.”
A documentary isn’t the only thing brewing for RJS Basketball.
Sullivan and fellow friend Torrey Brooks are teaming up to bring a top tier, elite basketball showcase to South Jersey. The event is tentatively scheduled for April 16 and will feature players from Run Jump Shoot Basketball and Brooks’ brand League Bound.
“The Run Jump Shoot Classic will be back for 2021 in April,” Sullivan said. “It’s been long overdue. We missed last year due to COVID. I’m really really excited. It’ll be League Bound vs RJS. That’s the new facility opening up in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Me and Torrey will be teaming up. I expect everyone to be out to see that event. It’s going to premiere some of the youth coming up. I got fifth grade games, sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, high school girls game and a high school boys game.
These kids will have the opportunity to show their skills and meet some of the other premier trainers in the area as well. I’m going to have high school coaches there, it’ll be livestreamed, I’ll have writers there. I just want all the kids to get an opportunity to have their skills seen. I expect everyone to be out to see that event. This competition will be high-level. That’s the biggest thing I like to bring to these events. I want the best to come out. It’ll be full of excitement.”
So far, Sullivan has done an excellent job guiding the youth he has trained over the years. More importantly, he wants that tradition to continue to grow in the future and be able to impact the lives of many more. The journey hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but it hasn’t dismantled Sullivan’s optimism or work ethic.
He wants to help people every chance he gets.
“Moving forward in 2021, I think it's time for people to really understand the journey that it took to get to this point,” Sullivan said. “Sometimes people think it's easy -- they can jump in and be in your shoes. This training -- it’s a lot of hard work that’s done behind the scenes. It’s unseen hours. Any way that I can help, my door is always open.”
South Jersey Sports Zone (SJSZ) was co-founded by Kevin Emmons in 2017. The brand covers high school sports and promotes South Jersey pride. If you'd like to keep up with SJSZ, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
(Photo Credit: Kevin Emmons)