The Press Newspaper
Drew Kuns said he took just three days off in between football and basketball season this year.
The Eagles' two-year starting quarterback said it took him at least two to three weeks to finally get into basketball shape.
"It's a lot different," said the 6-3 senior guard/forward. "There is constant sprinting in basketball, up and down the court. It's a different style of running. You have to run to sprint instead of running and covering up. I'm getting around."
Through seven games Kuns was the leading scorer in the City League, with a 22-point average. He scored a career-high 33 points earlier this season in Clay's loss to Start; his previous high was 31 against Rogers last season.
Kuns, who is also a standout baseball player, is the only four-year starter Clay basketball coach Joe Guerrero has ever had. Guerrero is in his 15th season with the Eagles and coached at Waite for seven years.
"Drew is a tough match-up for a big guy because he's quick and he can shoot from the outside," Guerrero said. "Drew had four 3s against Start. The bigger guys come out to guard him and he can go to the basket. If teams put a smaller guy on him, he's so strong inside that they have trouble guarding him.
That's why it's so good for us, because he's a tough match-up for other teams."
Kuns has always been a player who puts the team first, but he said he did set a few individual goals for his senior season.
"My goal was to average 24 points a game," he said, "because that would put me at exactly 1,000 points for my career. I came into the season wanting to average close to a double-double (points and rebounds). I'm sustaining that goal at this point."
Kuns is one of the top five rebounders in the CL, pulling down 9.7 boards a game, and he is shooting 37 percent from 3-point range and 53 percent from 2-point range. He is a 77-percent free throw shooter and he averages nearly three assists a game.
Waite coach Dave Pitsenbarger, whose team gave up 19 points to Kuns in a 65-60 win over the Eagles last Friday, said Kuns was the focal point of the Indians' defense.
"Drew just knows how to position himself," Pitsenbarger said. "He's physical and he knows the game, he knows the floor and when to kick it out. He's just a smart basketball player."
Should he maintain his scoring average, Kuns could become the first player Guerrero has had to lead the CL in scoring.
"He's a natural scorer," Guerrero said. "If you've got a guy who can shoot from the outside, attack the basket and post up, how do you guard him? With the makeup of our team, we're able to play him in different situations depending on who is guarding him. He's a captain and a good leader. We go as he goes."
It wasn't quite that way last season, when Clay had 6-9 Zac Taylor patrolling the paint. When Taylor, who is now playing at the University of Toledo, came back from rehabbing his knee during the season last year, Kuns was moved from the inside to the outside.
Kuns averaged 12 points a game as a junior, but with the graduation of Taylor, he knew he had to boost his scoring output this season.
"I felt like I had to be the dominant scorer," Kuns said. "I'm pretty much the only one coming back who had a bunch of playing time. We have a couple kids who played for one year or a half of a year. I figured I would have to step it up and play my best for the team to do well."
While Kuns has nearly doubled his scoring average from a year ago, Clay has struggled to close out games this season. The Eagles were 1-6 and 0-3 in the CL heading into Wednesday's makeup game at Anthony Wayne.
"We're not that bad," Guerrero said. "We are so darn close to having a good record. It's kind of frustrating. The third quarter against Waite was the best we've played all year and we are trying to build on that and staying positive. We have to play better defensively and we have to finish games."
Said Pitsenbarger, "I told Coach Guerrero before the game that we scouted them a couple times and they played with everybody for three and a half quarters, and they've been falling short. Hopefully, we don't have to face them again."
Kuns and fellow Clay senior starters Matt Swaim, Terence Huggins, Terrelle Huggins and Jeremy Jago remain confident they can turn their season around.
"Out of the four years I've been here, this is the hardest working group we've had by far," Kuns said. "In practice we always go hard...If we can turn our turnovers around and the stupid mistakes at the end of games, we can be a good team or a great team."