Hoops Memories: The Impact Players

Posted: October 10, 2016 in Opinion, Sports, Things I Love
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When I think about all the players I’ve coached, several guys stand out. Some shooterwere really good players and others, well, while they may have not been the most talented, they were players who made a big impact.

After all, you don’t have to be all-league or the leading scorer to have a major impact on the game of basketball.

That said, I thought I’d take a look back at some of the most impactful players I’ve ever coached. And hey, I can’t talk about everyone so please don’t be offended if you’re not included. Let me start w-a-y back when I first started coaching varsity basketball and work my way to the present. Obviously, I’ll leave out my current players.

I’ll use one word to describe the player, with a few other thoughts thrown in for good measure.

Aaron Hinshaw

  • CLUTCH. Aaron hit so many last second shots they called us “The Cardiac Cats” his senior year, largely because of him. A 6′-3″ post man, Aaron had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Shot nearly 65% from the floor his senior season.

Mark Miller

  • ATHLETE. Mark could jump out of the gym. Quite possibly the greatest athlete, along with Christian Newsome, that I ever coached. Mark had to change his game a little when I came around, and he did so without complaint. Mark’s monster two-handed dunk after stealing the ball against Ross Southeastern was legendary.

Todd Shoemaker

  • LEADER. Todd wanted the ball when it mattered most and lived for those moments. In retrospect, I should have made sure he got the ball more in those situations. Lightning quick, he was a spectacular ballhandler and passer as well. An amazing 3-sport athlete, everyone followed Todd because he was a winner. He was the ultimate leader who hit some big shots for us.

Casey McFadden

  • FEARLESS. Casey would do whatever it took to win, including taking on much larger opponents and letting them know who was boss if it was needed. He was never really vocal about it, but you knew he would never, ever back down from anybody. Like Todd, Casey was a winner.

Roman Diekan

  • DEFENDER. Roman was perhaps the greatest lockdown defender the SVC has ever seen. He took great pride in shutting down the best player on the opposing team, and he once held a 1st Team All-League player to zero field goals in a Sectional Title game. On every game day Roman had a look that showed you he was ready to play, man. Roman, Todd and Casey formed a 3-guard lineup that could really get after you defensively.

Craig Kerns

  • VERSATILE. Craig was quite simply the best all-around player I ever coached. He scored, rebounded, passed, defended, and was a great team leader and role model for our younger kids. Had he not been so unselfish and not had such talented teammates he could have had way more than the 1,047-points that he scored. Craig could take over a game any time he wanted, and sometimes I had to ask him to do just that. During one game we trailed by 8-points with about 5:00 left. We’d been behind the entire game but just couldn’t get over the hump. I called Craig over and said, “You have to win this game for us.” And he did.

Josh Anderson

  • COMPETITOR. At 6′-5″, Josh wasn’t your typical high school point guard. His court vision was incredible, and he made everybody around him better. He also hated to lose much more than he loved to win, the best trait in any athlete. Josh took care of the ball so well that during his senior year he had an incredible assist-turnover ratio of 6.5 to 1.0. He had a bit of a mean streak too, and that served him, and his teammates, well.

defenderJason Johnson

  • ANTICIPATOR. “The Weasel” was the best off-the-ball defender I ever coached. I’ve seen him drift, for no apparent reason, away from the side of the court the ball was on only to have the ball swing back around as he stepped into the lane and stole it. Somehow he was always 3-4 passes ahead of everybody. He had a sixth sense defensively, and I have video to prove it. Damn good 3-point shooter too.

Deric Newland

  • INTIMIDATOR. Even playing on a team with three other 6′-5″ players, Deric stood out. He was an enforcer without saying a word. Never had to. His presence alone on the floor was all that was needed. And although he was a fierce rebounder and shot blocker, he had a soft shooting touch and could knock down the 3. Deric had a fierce dunk off a steal against Westfall that is still talked about.

Eric Danielson

  • OVERACHIEVER. Eric was a pure athlete who, although only around 6′-1″, could jump out of the gym. “E” had a pretty mid-range jump shot and a nose for the basketball that allowed him to out-rebound players much taller than him. Eric was one of the quickest players off his feet that I ever coached. He was another of my quiet, humble players who never complained and always got the job done.

Todd Walker

  • GREATEST ALL-AROUND. It seems fitting that one word cannot describe Todd, since he excelled at everything he did. Here’s basically all you need to know about Todd Walker’s athleticism – he once scored 48-points in a game, and basketball was his worst sport. That said, my favorite story about Todd doesn’t involve hoops. A few years after he graduated I was at a football game talking to a guy from a neighboring school who’d played football against Todd. Todd walked by, and the guy said, “I returned a kickoff here once and that dude hit me so hard I saw Jesus.” And oh, by the way, Todd played centerfield on our State Champion baseball team.

Jeff Everhart

  • SHOOTER. Still Paint Valley’s all-time leading 3-point shooter, Jeff Everhart had almost limitless range. The second he crossed mid-court he was a threat. In spite of this he was an unselfish player, volunteering after his junior year to move to point guard even though it would mean less shooting opportunities for him. Toward the end of his senior year, Jeff had 999 total career points with less than 30-seconds left in a game. Everyone in the crowd knew this, so when Jeff made a steal and was headed for an uncontested layup they were on their feet. Shockingly though, he threw the ball way too hard off the backboard, seemingly missing an easy layup. It soon became clear what he was doing though, passing up his 1000th point to assist teammate Christian Newsome, who had followed him and caught Jeff’s pass for a thunderous two-handed dunk. Jeff passed the 1000th point mark the next game and ended with 1,047.

Cody Bryan/Michael McCloy/Riley Markko/Tylar Adkins/Zach Richardson

  • BELIEVERS. I have to include these guys for one reason. When I returned to coach Paint Valley after being away for 16-years, these were my seniors. This group could’ve rebelled against the major changes I made, but they were in 100%. Because of this, they were a big part of any success we’ve had since that first year.

Riley Markko

  • TOUGH. Yeah, I know. Riley’s in that last group as well, but any player who took 20-charges in a season deserves to be listed twice. At about 6′-0″ and 220-pounds, Riley was a rock. He was also as hard-nosed as any kid I ever coached. Whether it was diving for a loose ball, guarding our opponent’s best player, or taking one of his classic aforementioned charges, he was always in the middle of the action. Was he the best basketball player I ever coached? Not even close. Was he one of the most valuable? He was.

Cody Draise/Clay Archer/Trevor Medley/Michael Crabtree/Quinten ballhandlerSparks

  • ROLE PlAYERS. These guys were never close to being the best player on the team, but they all made amazing impact in their own ways. Each one understood the concept of TEAM and totally understood their roles. As any coach will tell you, these types of players are the difference between winning and losing. They provide the intangibles that no good team can do without. For instance, we were trailing by 7-points in a Sectional Championship game in the 2nd quarter when Draise entered the game. A charge, a blocked shot, and a couple rebounds later and we were leading by 5. Archer and Medley? All they did was rotate guarding our opponent’s best player every game, set screens, rebound, and score when they had to. Those two were instrumental in our win over undefeated and #2 ranked Peebles in 2015, doing an amazing job on their 2000+ point scorer. Michael Crabtree contributed by being one of the best pure shooters in school history and just missed tying the single season record with 58 in 2014. Finally, who can forget Quinten Sparks? He was a small but mighty defender who is known for what is now referred to simply as “The Block.” It happened in the districts at the Convo, and as a 6′-2″ opponent drove the baseline, the 5′-6″ Spark dropped from the foul line, rose up, and pinned the guy’s shot to the backboard. I’ll never forget our bench’s reaction, and that play helped propel us to a big 37-point victory.

Mason McCloy

  • REBOUNDER. Mason went after every ball and shattered every conceivable rebounding record at our school, including grabbing 32 in a single game. He also ran the floor like a gazelle and averaged 16.9-points and 15.3 rebounds in a single season. He had a non-stop motor and was one of the best pure athletes our school has ever seen. And by the way, Mason scored 1,079-points in his career.

Clay Stratton

  • MOTOR. That motor helped Clay score 1,303 career points, good for third place in school history. He gave 100% and rarely, if ever, came out of the game. And Clay cared about one thing – winning. He didn’t care of he scored 30-points or 3-points, as long as we won the game. He was one of the most unselfish and hard-working players I ever coached.

Anthony McFadden

  • CONSISTENT. Anthony probably scored the quietest, most unassuming 1,047 points in the history of our league. He rarely showed emotion and never showed up an opponent. Anthony is also one of the reasons I got back into coaching. Before I accepted the job I asked Anthony’s father if his son, then an 8th grade wrestler, might be interested in playing basketball. He was. On a related note, Anthony averaged nearly 25-ppg in his district appearances at the Convocation Center in Athens. Great point guard who was instrumental in getting the program back on track.

Finally, a quick look at the best defenders, shooters and passers I’ve had over my years of coaching. Obviously many, but not all, will be repeats.

THE DEFENDERS

Mark Miller – Long and quick, Mark could create havoc for the man he was guarding.

Roman Diekan – The best high school on-ball defender I’ve ever seen. He would start staring at the guy he was going to be guarding the minute the guy walked into the gym, and he had on his game face the minute he walked into school that morning. Relentless defender.

Casey McFadden – Tough and hard-nosed, he often guarded players a foot taller successfully.

Todd Shoemaker – Super quick and with great instincts, Todd would take it away if you tried to dribble in front of him.

John Scott – Quick off his feet and a great shot blocker. Very good fundamentally.

Jason Johnson – Like I mentioned earlier, the best off-the-ball defender I ever coached. Amazing basketball court sense. It often seemed he knew where the ball was going before our opponents did.

Deric Newland – Big and intimidating in the post. Would knock you off the block and out of position easily.

Todd Walker – A lot like Casey McFadden, Todd was strong enough to guard bigger guys and quick enough to defend small guards.

Riley Markko – Riley was very physical, but he could get into an opponent’s head mentally as well. As strong as any player I’ve ever coached.

Quinten Sparks – Quick as a cat and would rat you all 84-feet. At 5′-6″ he could jump out of the gym as well.

Clay Archer – Clay guarded quicker, stronger and more talented players almost every game. What made him successful was this – 100% effort, smarts and an unbending will to win. He played with a manic intensity that threw a lot of guys off their game. Those of you who watched him know exactly what I’m talkin’ about.

Trevor Medley – T-Bag was a long, athletic defender who was deceptively quick. He and Clay were instrumental in our tournament run.

Adam Bales – Adam usually defended the best player on the other team, and he was the point defender in our 1-3-1. Very underrated defensive player.

THE SHOOTERS

Casey McFadden – The best shooter on my team for 2-years. Had a great mid-range jumper and 3-point jump shot. Never relied on a set shot, ever. Great shooter off the catch.

Craig Kerns – Amazing all-around shooter who could hit the 3, stop and shoot a 12-foot jump shot, or take the ball all the way to the rim for a dunk.

Jeff Everhart – Pure shooter with unlimited range. Great penetrator and ballhandler as well. Sneaky quick.

Michael Crabtree – Like Everhart, Mike could (and would) shoot from anywhere. He made a 40-foot shot at the end of the 3rd quarter in the district finals, and it was a set shot.

Clay Stratton – Great at a the disappearing art of the mid-range jump shot. Clay could attack the rim as well as anybody too. 85% free throw shooter.

Anthony McFadden – Like Stratton, a great mid-range shooter who could get to the rim as well as anyone. Hit a ton of threes as well. Clutch at the free throw line too.

THE PASSERS

Todd Shoemaker – The flashiest, most creative passer I’ve ever coached. Led the league in assists every year I coached him, and was able to get an assist from virtually anywhere on the floor. Todd could throw a 40-foot bounce pass right on the money.

Josh Anderson – Josh’s great court vision and 6′-5″ height helped him run the offense as well or better than any point guard I’ve ever coached. Took care of the ball better than anyone as well.

I’ve been lucky enough to coach some great athletes at Paint Valley, including five of the nine 1000-point scorers in our school’s 56-year history. I have a feeling I’ll have two or three more over the next few years as well. And not only have I coached some great athletes, but great people as well. That’s a tribute to their parents, and you can’t put a price on that.

Note: I have an odd feeling I’ve left out somebody important. Please tell me if I have.

 

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