WHITEHOUSE – Jackson Mahomes backs down his defender.

He picks up the ball, pivots left then quickly back right to create space for an easy layup. Only a basketball player could make the move.

It accounts for two of his 20 points that evening. He will finish as Whitehouse’s leading scorer as the Wildcats clinch the 17-5A district championship after defeating Nacogdoches.

Mahomes is the second-leading rebounder for the Wildcats, averaging close to nine a game to go along with 12 points. At 6-foot-6, he gives Whitehouse the height it needs to be successful as it enters the playoffs.

But to those who don’t know Mahomes, his playing ability takes a backseat to his last name.

His father, Pat Mahomes, is a retired professional baseball player whose career included stops with the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Texas Rangers. His brother, Patrick Mahomes II, is a quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. Although Pat wouldn’t go as far to say his family has celebrity status in Whitehouse and the surrounding areas, he does acknowledge there is a difference.

"People know me and they know our family," he said. "We’ve been fortunate so far."

But it can take a toll.

Pat hears the jeers from opposing fans. Chants of, ‘You’re not Patrick!’ break out in student sections from time to time. But Mahomes remains thick-skinned. In fact, the chants seem to bring out something in him, Pat said. Those games are usually his best performances.

To be clear, Mahomes loves his brother. He values the advice – both in and out of sports – that Patrick offers to him. Mahomes is proud of what Patrick has accomplished.

It’s the name, or rather what comes with the name, he could sometimes do without.

“It’s hard at times because everybody’s asking for something,” Mahomes said. “You’ve got to act better and be respectful. Your name is out there. Everybody knows who you are and what your family is.”

Jackson Mahomes (5) in a huddle during a timeout.

***

In a family of multi-sport athletes, Mahomes deviates.

Pat played baseball, basketball and football for Lindale in the 1980s. Patrick was a three-sport athlete at Whitehouse not even a decade ago.

But basketball is Mahomes’ lone athletic pursuit. He played football and baseball, but gave both up before reaching high school to distinguish himself.

“Just to go a different direction than my brother,” he said. “Try to do something different.”

He didn’t lack talent. He quit playing football because he didn’t like being hit all the time. He played on a baseball team that Pat coached and led the team in home runs. But without warning, he came to his dad one day.

“Dad, I don’t want to play baseball anymore,” he said.

That was that. He turned his focus to basketball, the sport he felt he was best at.

He grew six inches in his junior year, forcing him to acquire a different set of skills as he transitioned from being a point guard to a post. He also earned a starting spot the same year.

He is one of the main pieces on a Wildcat team that finished undefeated in district play. A team that has as good a chance as any from East Texas to make a run in the playoffs. All because he has adjusted to his new role.

“He’s had to work his tail off to get where he’s at,” coach Brent Kelley said. “As an eighth grader when I first got here, he wasn’t near the player he is today. He is a straight basketball kid. To see him go through that process and improve each year, being a full-time starter as a junior, it’s been cool to watch him go through that, mature and live up to that last name.”

Jackson Mahomes goes up for a dunk.

***

Growing up with two boys brings a plethora of challenges.

Mahomes’ mother, Randi Martin, remembers all the items – from the front door to the oven – she had to replace because of fights between Mahomes and Patrick.

“What kid breaks an oven?” she said. “I mean, shatters an oven. I never would buy new stuff before Patrick moved out because I was like, ‘They’re gonna break it.’”

Fighting was a common theme for the brothers when they were younger. In fact, Mahomes said he and Patrick didn’t really get close until the latter left for college. Patrick concurs.

“He’s not as annoying anymore now that he’s grown up a little bit,” he said with a laugh.

Now, the two are in communication with each other frequently, talking on the phone and texting each other when they can. Patrick comes back to Whitehouse to watch games when his schedule allows and said he plans to make it back for a few playoff games. Mahomes will do the same when Patrick takes over as the likely starting quarterback for the Chiefs next season. He calls his father and brother the two biggest influences in his life sports-wise, adding that his mother also played a large hand in who he is.

“It’s been a very cool experience (seeing Patrick in the NFL),” Mahomes said. “Then again, I watched my dad do it all.”

Jackson Mahomes fades away for a shot in a game against Lindale.

***

A good work ethic is expected when you grow up in a house where sports takes up more days in the week than it doesn't.

Mahomes not only saw his brother work hard to achieve his goals, but also was there for the tail end of his father’s baseball career.

Pat played for minor league teams late in his career, and Mahomes would accompany him on the road during summers. Being in the dugout and traveling with the team, he got a glimpse of what it takes to become successful.

Even when Pat retired, the lessons didn’t stop.

“I just tell him the same thing I told Patrick when he was in the seventh grade: players make plays,” Pat said. “It’s that simple. If you’re a player, you make plays. You do what you gotta do to win. You do what you gotta do to make your team better. As long as you do that, you’re gonna be OK.”

Those summers provided Pat with his favorite memory of his son and a perfect example of the outgoing personality of Mahomes. Pat was playing in Sioux Falls, Iowa, where Mahomes was a bat boy for the game. It was the fourth inning and Pat stood on the mound, ready to pitch. He looked over to check on his son, but couldn't spot him. It took a few more seconds of glancing around before he finally saw him, microphone in hand, belting out Flo Rida’s “Low” on a karaoke at the family deck.

“He’s always been one that garners the spotlight,” Pat said.

Jackson Mahomes takes the ball to the rim.

***

Before the game against Nacogdoches, Mahomes stands at midcourt in a long line of faces that stretches from one baseline to the other.

There are 11 seniors and each of them has a support group with them. Martin stands to Mahomes’ right, holding a red rose. His 6-year-old sister is to his left, barely reaching his knees. After her stand the two professional athletes. Tonight, though, they are only father and brother.

The focus is on Mahomes.

He wants to study business in college, a pursuit that his family thinks aligns perfectly with his personality.

“He’s a businessman," Patrick said. "He always gets stuff done."

For now, the destination is Stephen F. Austin, but a lot can happen in a matter of months.

Mahomes said he doesn’t think he will play basketball in college. Pat said he isn’t sure the door has closed yet. Martin said she doesn’t know.

“I think at times, people have higher expectations for me,” Mahomes said. “They expect me to do more stuff because of my family and what they’ve done. That’s the hardest thing I have to face. ‘Where are you going to college? What sport are you gonna play?’ Stuff like that. In the end, I know I’m doing the best I can do and just trying to do what I can.”

Whatever Mahomes decides to do, it will be because he wants to. He has never been one to do something because it is expected. He made that clear when he chose to become a basketball player.

“I always said, ‘He might be the president,’” Martin said. “He’s always wanting to go be the owner or manager. He would work his way up wherever he goes.”

For now, he will look toward Whitehouse’s bi-district game against A&M Consolidated at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Fairfield.

After the game, Mahomes mingles. There are a lot of people who came to see him play. Friends and family members who wanted to support him on Senior Night. He poses for pictures, talks with reporters and celebrates the championship with his teammates.

So often, he has played the role of spectator, watching his brother and dad. But that night, it was his turn to perform. With Pat and Patrick watching from the stands, he showed the crowd just who Jackson Mahomes is.

And his story is only beginning.