College coaches are flocking to the Panther Den to scout Heber Springs senior forward Mason Schroeder, who was recently offered a scholarship to play basketball at the Air Force Academy.
College coaches are flocking to the Panther Den to scout Heber Springs senior forward Mason Schroeder, who was recently offered a scholarship to play basketball at the Air Force Academy. Along with the Falcons, Division-1 schools SMU, Texas Pan-American and UCA have shown interest. Schroeder is catching a flight to Colorado Springs for an official visit this weekend at the Air Force campus. Division-2 Arkansas Tech had coaches in Heber to see Schroeder last week, two days prior to his offer from Air Force. “I am going up tomorrow (Thursday) and they will take us out to dinner and I will go to a basic school day there on Friday,” said Schroeder. “I will go through a whole day, watch practice and Saturday we will fly back. I talk to the coaches about three times a week and they are all real cool.” Air Force looked at roughly 10 prospects in three states and Schroeder came out on top of the list. Falcon Assistant Coach Tyron Wright was extremely impressed with the work ethic of the Panthers in practice. “The Air Force coach (Tyron Wright) that came to watch practice said that he went to 10 different schools, seven in Indiana and one in Illinois and North Pulaski here and to our practice. He said that we have the hardest practice he has ever seen out of any schools no matter what division and that doesn't surprise me one bit,” Schroeder said with a laugh. Standing at 6-8 ½ and weighing 215 pounds, Schroeder is money from beyond the arc, using his height advantage to torch opponents. He is looking to play at a school that offers a combination of good academics with an offense compatible to his style of play. “I want a good academic school but for basketball I want a team that slows everything down and actually runs the offense, a motion offense because I fit in better there.” Schroeder has the ability to play a number of positions on the floor, ranging from forward to center. The senior has the length to cause havoc inside and get off his shot with relative ease from all over the floor. Heber Coach Kevin Kyzer said Schroeder is a perfect fit for a motion offense with his ability to stretch opposing defenses to open up driving lanes, set screens and work in the paint. “He is a very skilled 4-man, perfect for a motion offense that spreads the floor out where he can play all over the floor. If he's got a big guy that doesn't defend the ball well he can put it on the floor and go either way with it. He is a really good three-point shooter. He can come off screens and shoot and he is a very good screener. He's got every post move in the book, the left-handed jump hook, right-handed jump hook. He can go either way. He's got the double move, fade away … He's got the complete package offensively. “Defensively is where he has surprised a lot of coaches,” Kyzer continued. “They didn't realize how well he moves his feet and the kind of ball defender he is. That's when coaches really started to look at him and say he has a chance to play on the Division-1 level. They believe he can guard a 4-man where as last year he was battling a foot injury and was not near as athletic as he is this year.” Schroeder said playing out of state would not be an issue. “I don't have any reason to stay in state. I'm not tied down but I would like to play Division-1.” While battling a foot injury last season, Schroeder averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the Panthers when healthy. “I want to have a great season, finish out strong and enjoy my last year.” The recruiting process picked up over the summer as Schroeder began to blossom into a star on the AAU basketball circuit under the guidance of Kyzer. He also helped his cause by getting on a website, which fits potential prospects with a college. “I get a ton of letters. My phone blew up the past three months with coaches sending e-mails, sending texts, calling. What I did was get on the NCSA recruiting website and you pay, make a profile, get film on it, stats, GPA and everything and then it matches you with what they think your level of play is. “It matches you with schools in any state and you can e-mail. It's got all the coaches e-mails and phone numbers and you can contact coaches to get your name on the radar and go from there. The Air Force Academy was the first one to view my profile so that was pretty cool,” added Schroeder. Kyzer helped mold Schroeder into the versatile player he is today. “I was terrible in junior high and then sophomore year came around and we worked extremely hard. It was hard not to get better. I know we work harder than probably any school that I can think of,” added Schroeder. The Panthers have lofty goals this year with five senior starters, including Schroeder, forward Michael Kramer, forward Spencer Grogan, guard Waren Thomas Olmstead and point guard Austin “Red” Adkins, who is also receiving interest from college coaches. Affectionately knows as “Red” by friends and teammates, Adkins averaged 14.2 points and 3.4 assists per game last year. He is looking at the possibility of joining John Price, a former Panther teammate, at North Arkansas College in Harrison next year. “I think he will have a great year,” said Kyzer. “He shot over 40 percent from three-point range his sophomore year. He was the leading scorer on the team last year out of the guys that played the whole season. As a sophomore he was the third leading scorer behind John and Austin. He is even more deadly this year from three-point range, handles the ball better and he is a little bit quicker and stronger. We expect a big year out of him. He has been consistent all fall.” Sophomore forward David Keubler, junior guard Grant Childers, sophomore guard Chase Gallaway and sophomore guard Zach Ingram provide an abundance of depth for Heber. Ingram is nursing a shoulder injury and could miss a portion of the season. “Our expectations are to compete for a state title this year,” said Kyzer. “That's our expectation there is no doubt about it. We will start five seniors this year. A lot of these guys started or came off the bench for the team that finished fifth in the state a couple years ago with John and Austin [Brown]. “This is a very good defensive team. This is a more athletic team than we've had. Waren Olmstead and some of those guys … It's the fifth year I've had them. They have been in the weight room. You can tell a big difference in our seniors and our sophomores from their work in the weight room. We've got a good sophomore class coming up behind them so it's not a deal like we've got two bad classes back to back. We don't have many juniors that has always been a thin class but we've got two really big classes with some talent in the senior class and the sophomore class,” added Kyzer. Kuebler, who is already drawing some recruiting interest, is expected to be a major force off the bench. “Kuebler is about 6-3 now. He has worked a lot on his shot and has gotten a lot better. The main thing with him and Chase Gallaway right now is getting consistency out of them. They have good days and bad days but they are both shooting it well right now. Chase is maybe the most pure shooter on our team. He is almost automatic and his form is perfect. They are both growing right now and it hurts them athletically as hard as we go in the fall. They are sore from working out. I think when we get off their legs a little bit they will start doing even better,” added Kyzer. The Panthers are waiting on an eligibility decision on two more players that transferred over the summer from Little Rock Mills. Regardless, Heber expects a big season on the hardwood.