Knowing how hard he worked and all he learned over the summer, Nixa’s Kaleb Wofford is anxious for the Eagles’ season-opening tip at the Springfield Parkview Classic.
He still has three weeks remaining before he can prove himself all over again and this time around most likely on another level.
“I’m ready to see how much better I’ve gotten since last year and this summer,” Wofford said while previewing his sophomore season at Nixa.
Wofford surely benefitted greatly from playing with Yanders Law 16U in the NY2LA Sports League over the summer. The travel-ball team lived up to its name, venturing to gyms in Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago, just to name a few.
“We played about anywhere you could think of,” Wofford said.
Wofford’s Yanders Law teammates, all juniors and sophomores, are identifiable names across southwest Missouri, if not statewide. They include Kickapoo’s Anton Brookshire, Dora’s Isaac Haney, Raymore-Peculiar’s Kian Scroggins and Carthage’s Alex Martini.
“I had a good summer playing with Yanders Law,” Wofford said “I played with great players. I was challenged being surrounded by great competition in practice all the time.”
Wofford responded well to the challenges he faced last season as as freshman playing with and against players as much as three years older than him. His 3-point shooting shined, as he made 67-of-167 attempts (40 percent) beyond the arc.
Wofford was named to the All-Central Ozark Conference Third-Team. He was the only freshman recognized by the COC coaches.
“It meant a lot,” Wofford said of the experience he gained last season. “I learned a lot of things playing with older guys and people who are better, stronger and quicker than me. I became a better player and feel more confident in my game.”
Wofford didn’t put any undo pressure on himself and thrived in a supporting role.
“Because I was a freshman coming in playing varsity, I feel like people weren’t sure if I should be playing varsity or not,” he said. “I’m kind of glad I thought that way. It helped me get off to a good start and get more confident in myself.”
Of course, Wofford is on everyone’s radar now.
“People know who he is,” Nixa coach Jay Osborne said. “There’s no surprise anymore. He’s going to have to pay attention to detail, as far as using screens and getting open. We keep forgetting he’s just a sophomore. He’s still got some youth in him. But he’s a really good shooter.”
Nixa will be counting on Wofford more so than originally thought. Braeden Combs, who also played varsity ball as a freshman, will not return to the Eagles for his senior season. He is not attending school at Nixa.
Wofford anticipates staying put at shooting guard, but expects his role to increase.
“I’ll probably play the same position, but this year you’ll see me more as a leader,” he said. “We had a lot of guys from last year graduate, so I’ll be a lot more of a leader this year. Trying to make everyone around you better is a great role to be in. I love it.”
With Nixa’s losses to graduation and the absence of Combs, the Eagles will still be expected to contend in the Central Ozark Conference, but won’t be pegged a favorite to win the league title by many folks.
“We have lots of great shooters. Just about everyone on our team can shoot the 3,” Wofford said. “I’m ready to surprise everyone. It should be a great season. Stay tuned.”