SSA Hoops features some of the best 2017 players in Topeka and they are receiving coaching from someone that has played college basketball at a high level.
Will Spradling played on four NCAA tournament teams at Kansas State (2010-14) scoring over 1,000 points and was a three-year starting guard.
Instead of continuing his career as a player Spradling has turned to coaching beginning with coaching the eighth grade boys team at Manhattan Anthony Middle School this past school year and now has turned to coaching the SSA Hoops summer team.
“I’ve loved it,” Spradling said. “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s something I knew I wanted to do after college, but I didn’t really think I would do as much as I am doing. It’s something that once I started doing it I loved it and I wanted to keep doing it and really help as many kids as I could.”
Six rising juniors from Topeka—Brayden White, Trey Brown (pictured), Jenner Hickel, Poncho Freeman, Ethan Sparks, and Michael Brooks–are playing for Spradling’s 16U team, which continue their tournament play this weekend in Lawrence at the Crash the Boards Classic.
White, who averaged 4.7 points and 3.8 assists as a sophomore starter at Washburn Rural, and Brown, who averaged 3.7 points off the bench for state tournament participant Shawnee Heights, are two of the top point guards in Topeka.
“Those two are definitely really good point guards and they are two totally different point guards,” Spradling said. “Trey is more of a scoring point that can break someone down off the dribble, but at the same time shoot it at a high level. Brayden is someone that is going to get in the paint and make plays and then on the defensive end both players are really going to get up in you and pressure the ball. With Brayden I’m really trying to work on that sometimes he’s almost a little too passive and I know with Washburn Rural next year losing a couple of their key scorers he’s really going to have to step up and play more of a scoring role as a point guard. Trey will get a little rushed sometimes, but other than that Trey has really played well and made some big plays in the last tournament for us.”
Hickel is a 6-foot-4 small forward who showed a scoring touch down the stretch for Washburn Rural averaging 5.6 points a game on the season.
“I think Jenner will be a high-level scorer at Washburn Rural next year with the way he can shoot it and also get to the basket off the dribble,” Spradling said. “He’s going to be a tough matchup for people with his length and how bouncy he is.”
Freeman is a 6-foot-2 forward who averaged 4.1 points for Shawnee Heights last season and was fourth in the city with a true shooting percentage of .607.
“He’s just one of those kids that you know when you put him in he’s going to go get every rebound and he’s just going to go through that wall for you,” Spradling said. “He always goes out there and goes hard, crashes the glass, and he’s really coming on at the offensive end with his back to the basket making plays especially with his hook shot. He’s also taking people off the dribble more because he’s a little bit smaller big guy.”
After this weekend the team will resume play in July beginning with the Great American Shootout in Dallas (July 16-19) followed by the KC Hardwood Classic (July 23-26), and concluding with MAYB Nationals in Wichita (July 30-Aug. 2.)