For most of the time that Steve Kyser has spent on a basketball court, his size has worked to his advantage.
Kyser, Southview s 6-41/2 forward-center, always played near the basket because he was usually the tallest among teammates and friends. Through time and plenty of practice his low-post skills developed to the point where he became quite proficient putting the ball in the basket and grabbing rebounds.
To this day, Kyser s low-post play makes him the most notable player on a team considered as talented as any Southview squad in recent years. His hefty 23.5 points and yeoman-like 9.0 boards a contest lead the Cougars, who will Perrysburg tonight in a game that could help determine the Northern Lakes League champion.
Kyser s presence around the basket is appreciated by Southview coach Marc Jump.
“We re very team-oriented, [but] I d say it all starts with Steve,” said Jump, whose team is off to an impressive 7-1 start, including 3-1 in the NLL.
Kyser averaged 19 points and eight rebounds, both team-highs, last year to help the Cougars produce an 18-5 record and a 10-4 league mark, good for second place, even though he dealt with a litany of double teams and zone defenses intended to limit his effectiveness around the glass.
Kyser s footwork in the paint is basically old-school fundamentals. He creates space for shots around the basket utilizing his 200-plus pounds of bulk and precision drop-steps, pivoting off either foot. His hand-eye coordination is solid. Rarely does an entry pass or potential rebound slip through his fingers.
He s been Mr. Reliable for the Cougars the last two seasons. That includes shooting around 80 percent from the foul line.
Getting his game to this point started in grade school.
“I ve worked hard and put in a lot of repetitions working with all of my post moves,” said Kyser, who pumped in a season-best 31 points in a recent 96-94 win over Lima Shawnee.
By the sixth grade, Kyser already stood six feet tall.
And while Kyser s classmates have experienced growth spurts to close the height gap, he has remained roughly the same height for the past three years. Ironically, what once was an advantage for him has now become a disadvantage. In spite of what he s done on the court as the Cougars top player the past two seasons, Kyser hasn t been pursued heavily by college recruiters.
At 6-41/2, the perception is he s too short to play in the frontcourt at the DivisionI level.
“From what I have been told that s the only thing that separates him from being a DivisionI prospect,” Jump said. “He s great for us the way he is. He s a great high school player.
“Do I wish he had another 11/2 inches in height for his sake? Certainly.
“When you re 6-4 and a post player, Duke s not coming after you. A lot of that is driven on how tall God makes you.”
Kyser, who has a 3.4 grade-point-average, expects to play basketball in college. He believes there are DivisionI teams out there that he could play for. However, he s received only a couple of inquiries from Division I schools. Most interest has been from Division II and Division III programs.
“Whatever college I go to I just want to have fun playing ball,” Kyser said. “It would be nice if it was a DivisionI school, but I wouldn t be disappointed if it s not.”
Jump, who has allowed Kyser to play more on the perimeter this year, thinks his center is capable of playing for some DivisionI program.
“What if that kid grows another inch or two, then you ve got a diamond,” Jump said. “He s worked really hard at it. He s always working to try to be a better player.”
In the meantime, Kyser s focus is on team goals.
“I want to win the league this year because we were picked to win it last year and didn t,” Kyser said. “It was disappointing, but if we play hard in every game for the rest of this year I ll take whatever happens.”
- DONALD EMMONS