Summer basketball strengthens player’s bonds through AAU program

Jacob Clanton, Print Editor-in-Chief

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Over the summer, most Manhattan High sports hold camps or practices. However, for some students, that’s not enough.

Members of the MHS boys basketball team joined together this summer to play on Spradling Skills Academy teams. Though the teams are made up of high school students, it is a different experience than playing high school basketball.

“It’s different than high school because you have players from like all different high schools over the state and just everybody seems to be like the best from their high school,” senior Nate Awbrey said. “It’s just like a lot of good players in one gym.”

Awbrey was one of eight Manhattan High athletes to play for SSA this summer. He was joined by seniors John Ostermann and Micah Wiggins, junior Lawson Monaco, and sophomores Chandler Marks, Raeshon Riddick, Mitch Munsen and Peyton Weixelman.

“It was a good experience,” Marks said. “It’s fun to be around those group of guys.”

Playing together gave the athletes a chance to gain chemistry together.

“It just gave like more time together on the court,” Awbrey said, “more practice time together. You just kind of really get to see and feel how the other players play with you.”

Though they didn’t get a lot of time together on the court, the athletes were still able to create stronger bonds.

“[There was] not too much working together on the court,” Marks said, “but kind of talking and catching up, stuff like that. Just staying in touch.”

Building that chemistry and those bonds will benefit Manhattan as the team looks towards the regular season.

“It’s great to get to know someone before and know them for awhile before you starting going into the regular season,” Marks said.

While a lot of the summer was dedicated to SSA for those athletes, MHS still held camps and attended tournaments as a team.

“In June, we went to Kansas City and we played in a tournament there,” Awbrey said, “and then we also played at K-State and we did that there and then we had a team camp also.”

Awbrey, a member of the MHS boys soccer team, also had to balance his time spent working on soccer.

“It can be difficult sometimes because one weekend you gotta be completely like, ‘Alright, I’m a soccer player this weekend,’” Awbrey said, “and then next weekend you’re like, ‘Alright, I’m a basketball player.’ It’s not that bad, but sometimes when you’re just switching every week, it’s hard to keep a balance of like what mindset you’re in.”
As the Indians have no starters returning this year, having athletes gain some chemistry over the summer will be vital to their success.

“I think it will help us a lot,” Awbrey said. “Just getting more reps together and stuff and just getting a feel [for each other will help]. We’ve played with each other for a long time but still, just still getting that feel for being on the court with each other, knowing what their strengths are and trying to allow them to use those strengths as much as they can.”

As an added bonus, the athletes enjoyed playing together.

“It was just a great group of guys and I love playing with them,” Marks said.