Scooping up local talent isn’t something the South Puget Sound Community College basketball team has had overwhelming success with in the past.
Aaron Landon, the Clippers’ coach, knows that. This year, he’s changed it.
“Getting local guys is something we’ve always wanted to do,” Landon said. “This is the first year we’ve gotten local guys early. It’s good to have them in the gym.
“I think it’s going to be a longer process of making the top local talent want to stay right here. They need good faith from us by seeing us win.”
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The program has rounded up a pair of players so far this year. Kobe Key, a River Ridge High School senior, and Wesley Reynolds, a North Thurston senior, have both signed letters of intent to play for the Clippers next winter.
Key was a Class 2A honorable mention selection for the Associated Press’ all-state basketball team. He was also on The Olympian’s All-Area team and the 2A South Puget Sound League most valuable player.
“I love just watching him play. He just plays hard,” Reynolds said of Key. “He’s going to keep going to the hoop. His defense is the best part of his game, he works at everything.”
Key, a 5-foot-10 point guard, averaged 10.6 points per game for the Hawks, whose balanced attack had five players averaging double figures at the end of the season. River Ridge placed fourth in the 2A state tournament in Yakima in March.
“Kobe’s super simple,” Landon said. “Kobe’s just a winner. … He’s quiet, no nonsense and he wants to get to work, and that’s what we were looking for.”
Landon sees that same drive in Reynolds.
“He’s a guy with a ton of upside that’s had a nice high school career,” Landon said. “He was at the top of our list locally of guys we felt fit what we do.”
Reynolds’ role is likely to shift at SPSCC, however, as the Clippers don’t employ a traditional post position. At 6-4, he was a forward for North Thurston.
“We don’t have big post players,” Landon said. “We call it a slot position. He’ll play in the slot and he’ll be asked to play out at the 3-point line and kind of be a hybrid wing player that can also rebound like a front-line guy.”
Reynolds was a first-team all-3A Narrows League selection, and a second-team selection on The Olympian’s All-Area team. He averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game for North Thurston this season.
Reynolds said he spoke with multiple Northwest Athletic Conference schools before landing at SPSCC.
“They all offered different things that could help me develop,” he said.
But coaching and location — close to home — are what sold Reynolds.
“It means a lot,” he said. “It shows that I’m going to be able to do what I love to do at a higher level.”
SPSCC has signed two other recruits — Blake Hampton from Kelso and Joshua Washington from South Medford (Oregon) — and Landon plans to sign five or six more.
Sanders gets first offer
Kelle Sanders, a junior at River Ridge, received his first NCAA Division I scholarship offer last week to play football at the University of Wyoming. He announced it April 13 via Twitter.
“In the moment it was a weight off my shoulders,” Sanders said. “But now, it’s more pressure on me. I’ve got to keep grinding, keep doing what I’m doing.”
Sanders was named 2A all-state honorable mention as a defensive lineman. He recorded a school-record 11 sacks, forced three fumbles and recovered another two. He is projected to play quarterback next season with Key graduating.
Tumwater’s Cade Otton, a junior, currently has eight offers from Eastern Washington, Hawaii, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, Wyoming, Yale and Harvard. He was a 2A all-state selection on offense (tight end) and defense (linebacker) last season.
Trio of River Ridge players headed to Centralia
River Ridge seniors LaBrandon Price, Issiah Scott and Jaden White have committed to play men’s basketball at Centralia College next season.
The trio was part of the Hawks’ fourth-place team at the 2A state championships. All three averaged double figures for their senior seasons.