During the years that I coached high school football, I always felt that high school football players could contribute to the basketball team. For some reason, many basketball coaches held and, still due today, that basketball players have to play basketball year around. Basketball coaches also worry about possible injuries on the football field.
Sad, but football coaches, today, want their players concentrating on year around football conditioning. Although I am an old football coach, discouraging kids from playing basketball is also ridiculous. The first thing I ask a big lineman is "do you play basketball?" In fact, I drive to watch linemen play basketball during the winter months. If they can move their feet, catch and pass, and be physical underneath the basket, they make my "to watch" list.
This past basketball season, I watched Toledo Whitmer and Pickerington Central play hoops. Both teams had some really high profiled football players playing basketball. Although I saw three games at the Ohio High School State Basketball finals this past week, I did not see the Division One State championship game. Pickerington Central versus Toledo Whitmer. Both teams went against the norm for Divisiion One schools, in that football players played vital roles for their teams.
Michigan bound Chris Wormley was solid as both a defender and rebounder. In the semi finals he made some clutch free throws. LeRoy Alexander who is headed to Nebraska lead the Panthers with 19 points. Although he contributed as a back-up inside guy, Toledo bound Storm Nelson held his own. Storm does not run well, but he is tough inside. Now, one of my favorites as a wide receiver is junior, Nigel Hayes. Basketball is his sport and I have no problem with that. But if he was really into football, he would be one of the top receivers in his Ohio Class of 2013, and play at a higher college level in football than basketball. His choice, not mine.
Pickerington Central had two high profiled football players in the game. Jae-Sean Tate will possibly chose basketball over football at the next level. He is listed at 6'3 and runs really well. Very athletic. Shoots the ball really well. Like his touch. Taco Charlton, a Michigan commit, listed at 6'5-250 was a beast in the paint. Not a great shooter, but he plays defense and can rebound. For sure, he does not back away from contact. Zack Beaver also plays both sports for Pickerington Central.
Lakewood St Edwards had no football players playing basketball. Earlier in the year, I saw Warren Harding play basketball, and rumor had it, the coach made it so, that players did not have a choice. Just a rumor.
Playing both basketball and football is tough at any Division. Maty Mauk did it at Kenton. Joseph Davidson did it at Findlay. Marcus Ball does it at Westerville South. Jake Root did it at Pickerington North. Tyler Jones did it at Canton McKinley.
Congrats not only to the football players who play basketball at both Pick Central and Toledo Whitmer, but to both basketball teams for a fine season. Almost forgot, Pick Central played in the OHSAA football state championship game, while Whitmer played in the OHSAA state football semi-finals. WOW!!