Concordia Lutheran may be graduating seven seniors from its Class 3A state runner-up team, but those believing the Cadets will face a significant drop-off may want to check out sophomore-to-be Paxton Bergdoll.
The 6-foot-6 forward showcased his skills over the weekend at the Memorial Day Run-n-Slam tournament in Fort Wayne with the Spiece Indy Heat 16U team, accounting himself well alongside top-level talents like Vijay Blackmon of Marion.
Bergdoll showed a well-developed turnaround short jumper, using his height to get a decent look at the basket over defenders. He was aggressive on the boards despite having a slightly underdeveloped frame due to his age. He also showcased the ability to handle the ball in the backcourt when needed.
“(AAU) really helps me out a lot because we play up in usually every tournament, so I get to play against older kids,” Bergdoll said. “This helps me know what it is going to be like and show me what I will be going against next year.”
With D.J. McCall returning as the lone varsity player with significant experience next season, Coach Josh Eggold will need an influx of young talent to step up for the Cadets. Bergdoll appears to fit the bill as a versatile piece of the 2013-2014 squad, able to play around the basket and also be a threat to step out and hit a shot.
Bergdoll saw significant action at the junior varsity level this past season.
“This summer I am really working on my vertical jump and my strength and body mass because it will be a lot bigger people I will be going against next year,” Bergdoll said.
Those expecting Concordia to regress next season may be disappointed.
“I want to say that's a false statement,” said Bergdoll when asked what he would say to those expecting the Cadets to take a step back. “We may not be as good as we were this year, but give us some time and we'll be back to where we were.”
Snider senior-to-be Leander Williams has never been a player who can out-jump anyone, but he continues to work on other aspects of his game that give him an advantage.
The 5-foot-5 guard has increased his time in the weight room to get stronger, an attribute he hopes he can add to his speed for his senior season of high school.
“Playing against people who want to go Division I, it just makes me stronger,” said Williams.
Williams plays with a plethora of area talent on Indiana Fire, including former North Side teammates Tre'vion Crews and Oosha Mitchell.
“I have been playing with the North Side kids for awhile, even the first two years of high school,” Williams said. “It is the same basketball, just playing against bigger and stronger people.”
Williams said Snider coach John Todor has told him that several colleges have contacted him with invites for Williams to attend summer camps, but no offers have yet come his way.
Williams says he does not worry much about his small stature.
“It is easier to get around people with my size,” Williams said. “Some people look at me like I am a disadvantage, so it actually helps me mentally.”
A move for Jones?
One of the most dynamic players in the state in the Class of 2016 may be on the move for his sophomore season.
Reggie Jones, a versatile talent who can play the small forward position as well as both guard positions, played his freshman year at Richmond, but may end up elsewhere next season.
Jones, originally from Marion, hinted at a change but would not commit to it in between games over the weekend at the Memorial Day Run-n-Slam.
“Ya'll are going to see,” said Jones when asked if he would be back at Richmond. “I cannot say anything right now … you all will see.”
Jones is getting early interest from Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Xavier, Kentucky and Dayton, among others. Most schools are recruiting him as a combo guard.
He plans to attend the Michigan State camp this summer, and claims the Spartans and Kentucky as early leaders.