HUMBOLDT — Rayce Hoepker had his pick of colleges lined up vying for his services on the basketball court next season.
After all, what school wouldn’t covet a 27.5 point-per-game scorer, who also carries a 4.0 GPA. It is safe to say that Hoepker had a wide variety of suitors, but in the end it was his familiarity with the Allen Community College program and his relationship with coach Andy Shaw that kept Hoepker in Allen County.
“We’ve known for a while that we have wanted Rayce to be a part of this program,” Shaw said. “He and his brother used to come to my camps, so he has always been around the program. He has been coming to our games and been around Allen.
“Being a good basketball player is one thing, but to also be the type of kid that he is and the type of student that he is, really makes it a no-brainer for us.”
Hoepker said the up-tempo style of play that Shaw likes to run was a major selling point in his decision-making process.
“I have seen the way he coaches a lot and it doesn’t seem like he plays favorites and he plays like I like to play,” Hoepker said. “He likes shooters.”
Shaw and Hoepker definitely see eye-to-eye on that.
“He really shoots the ball well,” Shaw said. “He did a lot of that at Humboldt and in my system we shoot a lot of threes so if guys can do that, I have no problem with them letting it fly.”
With Shaw having the opportunity to follow Hoepker’s career so closely, he has had the chance to see the future Red Devil improve which each high school season.
“He got a lot better each year,” Shaw said. “He definitely led his team this year and had to play as little bit of a different role on his team this year. He had to be more of the primary ball-handler, whereas last year, he didn’t have to do that as much. I think that really helped improve his overall game.”
Hoepker does carry a 4.0 into Allen and has a lot of his college credit already earned through high school career, so Hoepker may only spend a year at Allen before moving on to a four-year school, but Hoepker is excited to make the most of the time he has to play in front his home fans in Allen County.
“Hopefully, I have a good year at Allen and then get a few more four-year offers to move on,” Hoepker said.
His outstanding academics also earn his the President’s Scholarship at Allen, which is a higher scholarship than the basketball program has to offer on its own. So although Shaw said he would have been perfectly willing to give Hoepker a basketball scholarship, Hoepker’s President’s Scholarship allows Shaw to allocate more scholarship dollars to other areas and improve the recruiting class around Hoepker.
“He is a local kid,” Shaw said. “Just seven miles south of town, so we have to keep those kids here and I am glad we were able to do that.”
Makaylah McCall has wanted to play on the next level for a long time and even if she doesn’t remember that, her coach Aubrey Jones certainly does.
“It was something that she talked about with me when I first got here,” the third-year coach said. “She wasn’t sure if she would be able to, but I told her that as long as she worked, she was definitely talented enough. We just had to showcase her in the right way. She put in a ton of work so I could be more excited.”
Earlier this month at the SEK All-Star Game in Pittsburg, McCall said she was committed to continuing her education at Pittsburg State University and giving up on her basketball career, but during her all-star circuit, McCall realized she wasn’t ready to hang up her sneakers yet.
“I had an all-star game (in Chanute) and I played with a lot of girls that were going to be going to Neosho,” McCall said. “It made me realize how much I still enjoy playing and how much I would enjoy my future teammates.
“I forgot that it was a goal until I remembered how much I actually liked it, so I am really glad they wanted me.”
McCall’s recruitment was a quick one with Neosho County Community College moving quick to secure the two-time All-State selection, who helped lead her Cubs to the state tournament this season.
With that run to state tournament fresh in McCall’s mind, she says she is excited to have at least one more season to enjoy competitive basketball, before she plans to pursue a degree in nursing.
“Not every senior can say that they got to go to state their senior year and are now able to continue doing what they love to do, so I am grateful,” McCall said.
Like Hoepker, McCall is a terrific student and enters the Panther program with a lot of her college credits already done, so she will likely only spend one year in Chanute before she moves on with her academic career.
McCall insists that she doesn’t expect her basketball career to continue past next season, but McCall has declared her basketball career done once before already so stay tuned as she looks to light up the scoreboards around the Jayhawk Conference next season.