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FROM PHILLY TO FOXBURG: Zahsheen Levins’ Journey Has Taken Him Across the State; Basketball Has Been the Constant

FOXBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — When Zahsheen Levins was a freshman, he didn’t make his high school basketball team.

At the time, Levins was barely 6-foot tall.

Then, he hit a growth spurt.

By his sophomore year at a new school he was 6-3. This year, at another new school at A-C Valley, he’s continued to grow, topping out at 6-5 with length and elite jumping ability.

And his game has grown right along with him.

(Pictured above, Zahsheen Levins)

“My sophomore year is really when I popped out,” Levins said. “I grew a lot size-wise. When I got out here, (coach Jess Quinn) has helped me sharpen my game. I’m just glad to be here.”

It’s been quite the journey for Levins from Philly to Foxburg.

He grew up in West Philadelphia, but transferred to an all-boys school after his freshman year.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Then he and his mother, Lauren, packed up and moved to Western Pennsylvania before his junior year in school.

“My mom wanted a change of scenery, so she brought me out here where I found my home at A-C,” Levins said.

It wasn’t an easy transition for Levins, he said.

“When I first got here, it was a big culture shock,” Levins said. “The things I used to do in Philly I really couldn’t do out here. But I feel like being here has made me a better person overall.”

Basketball has also been a constant for the athletic Levins, who has dominated on the boards and has chipped in with double-digit scoring in his first year with the Falcons.

Basketball has been his touchstone. It’s grounded him through bouncing around schools and the move across state.

He’s been an impact player. Perhaps more importantly, basketball has helped Levins transition better into his new life far from the familiarity of Philly.

“Basketball is the only thing I really think kept me going ever since my freshman year,” Levins said.

Levins has teamed with A-C Valley’s other big man, Jay Clover, to become a formidable duo inside.

The two combined for 45 points in a win against Keystone on Monday.

“Jay is a senior and I’m a junior, so I’m dedicating my entire year to play with him to the best of my ability until he graduates,” Levins said.

Quinn has been impressed with how rapidly Levins has developed.

The first-year coach is also eager to see how much better Levins can get.

“He’s just an unbelievable raw talent,” Quinn said. “He and Jay really complement each other so well down low. They play well together. It just makes me so happy to see that for those boys.”

Levins lives with his mother. His surrogate father, Byron Ross, still lives in Philadelphia where he runs several businesses.

“He’s not my biological father, but he’s been there ever since I was a baby,” Levins said. “I claim him as my father. He’s supported me the entire way, as well as with my game. He’s taken me to gyms on Saturdays and weekends to help me work on my game.”

Levins is very close with his mother, who has also been a source of great motivation and support.

“She’s given me everything I’ve asked for,” Levins said. “Everything I’ve need to further myself in basketball and education, she’s been there for me.”

Levins has some big dreams on the basketball court.

He hopes to parlay his burgeoning skills into a college basketball scholarship one day.

“I want to play Division I,” Levins said. “First I gotta hit the books hard because I don’t want to slack on that. That’s a bad look.”

Levins admitted he still has some work to do to round out his skills.

He’s really only been playing competitively for a short period of time. But he passes the eye-test and he has the better part of two years to polish his game. He’s determined to do that.

“I need more discipline when it comes to post moves, moves in the paint,” he said. “I have to get a little quicker on defense because sometimes I let people slip past me on the baseline. I gotta get back on defense as well. I have to be smarter when it comes to blocking shots. I can’t just swipe at it. That’s just easy foul calls.”

Levins said he also plans on joining the track and field co-op between Union and A-C Valley this spring.

“People say I’m quick and I can jump and I’m built for it,” Levins said, smiling. “I’m not opposed to doing this. I’ll give it a shot. I’ve heard it’s a really good school for track.”

Levins sometimes marvels at all the twists and turns his life has already taken.

He’s hoping this destination — and direction — sticks.

“Each day comes with a new story to tell,” Levins said. “I tell you, though, I’ll just go with the flow. Whatever happens, I’m going to keep going and keep it up.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.