Hoop stars help each other get noticed
Five talented area prep players team up this summer with the idea of working together to maximize each other's basketball abilities, showcase their skills and catch the eye of college scouts
Sean Ryan / The Herald
Mountlake Terrace High's Loren LaCasse and Jackson High's Jason Todd return to the court after a timeout against Clutch Players, a 17-and-under team from Oregon, during the Northwest Premier Summer Showcase at Bellevue Community College on July 13.
Sean Ryan / The Herald Dan Kingma, from Mill Creek, dribbles around a pick set by Andrew Stang, from Camano Island, against Clutch Players, a 17-and-under team from Oregon, during the Northwest Premier Summer Showcase at Bellevue Community College Saturday July 13. Photo taken 0713
Sean Ryan / The Herald Andrew Stang, from Camano Island, struggles battles for the rebound against Clutch Players Tyler Gutierrez during the Northwest Premier Summer Showcase at Bellevue Community College Saturday July 13. Photo taken 0713
Sean Ryan / The Herald Dan Kingma, from Mill Creek, struggles for a shot against Clutch Players Johnathan Doutt during the Northwest Premier Summer Showcase at Bellevue Community College Saturday July 13. Photo taken 0713
Sean Ryan / The Herald Loren LaCasse, from Woodinville, rises above Clutch Players Jack Rubin for a shot during the Northwest Premier Summer Showcase at Bellevue Community College Saturday July 13. Photo taken 0713
This summer the five local high school players have had a different mission.
They have teamed up on Friends of Hoop, a select basketball team that plays against some of the best basketball talent in the nation. The idea is for them to compete together and try to bolster each of their individual chances of playing college basketball.
Tryouts for the team were held in March just after the WIAA state basketball championships. All five players made the team and started playing games shortly after. They have recently competed in NCAA viewing tournaments at Bellevue College and are competing this weekend in Portland before traveling to Las Vegas for another tournament.
It has been a unique opportunity for them to come together and share their talents with one another for a common goal.
"I think it's cool," Todd said. "We kind of represent Wesco in a sense. Dan and I don't play Drew and we don't play Loren (in school ball), so it's kind of nice just to play against them and practice with them and play with them in games. They bring a lot to the table. I think I speak for Dan too, we just like playing with good players and that's obviously what these guys are."
It isn't all about Wesco. Dreschel represents the smaller schools, playing for 1A Cedar Park Christian. Unfortunately, Dreschel fractured his pelvis and a pulled hamstring while attempting a dunk in last weekend's tournament at Bellevue. He will miss the rest of the team's summer season.
Friends of Hoop coach Jeremy Eggers was impressed with what Dreschel had done so far before his injury.
"Trey, unfortunately because of the injury, we aren't going to get to see the full potential of him the rest of this month," Eggers said. "But I really fell in love with him and the fact that he just competes and isn't afraid of anything."
It was a disappointing setback for Dreschel, who like the other players on the team was hoping to get noticed by college scouts.
"I tried to use it as a chance to showcase my talents and try to get a division 1 scholarship, which, if I could, that is what I wish I could be doing right now is playing and trying to get a scholarship," he said.
The opportunity to stand out in front of college scouts is the common goal for all involved.
"That's the whole point of select basketball, at least in the summer time," Todd said. "There is colleges obviously watching and I think all of us have aspirations to go play college basketball at whatever level. Aside from that, just to grow as people and grow as friends and enjoy our last summer here before we go off in our own directions."
Todd and Kingma led the Timberwolves to the 4A state championship game in March, before falling to Curtis 60-56. Todd suffered a second-half ankle injury that limited his mobility down the game's stretch.
Asked how his ankle is now, Todd seemed eager to put the past behind him. "Fine," he said.
Eggers knows that each of his players are out there with the intention of getting noticed by colleges, but it is still his job to mold them into a team, something he said can be challenging.
"The more we play as a team and the more games we win, the more we get seen -- so the more they get seen. So it's kind of a two-fold," Eggers said. "If you don't win as a team, you aren't going to get seen much as an individual."
Playing as a team hasn't been a problem with this group, Eggers added.
"That's the nice thing about this group, I think they really care about winning and winning for each other," he said.
Every player that comes to the team is talented and already being recruited to some degree to play at the next level, Eggers said. Friends of Hoop is just a tool to help them get there.
"These guys are all good basketball players, so they are getting recruited one way or another," he said. "Friends of Hoop gives them an avenue to hopefully better their recruiting and hopefully become better overall players as they get back to their high school teams."
That seems to be what the five area players enjoy most about playing on the team.
"It's just a chance to play against a little bit tougher competition and some of the best players around the country so that when I get back to playing with my high-school team I can be a little bit stronger and a little bit better." Kingma said.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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