Log in

Pedigree and preparation have Pickren set for early start to his promising Ozark career


Just two games into Kylan Pickren’s Ozark career, the freshman forward is ahead of the pace set by all-time Tigers great Quinn Nelson.

Pickren scored his first four varsity points in Ozark’s semifinal loss to Springdale, Arkansas, at last week’s Republic Tournament.  

Nelson, the 2018 COC Player Of the Year and one of Pickren’s idols, didn’t make his varsity debut until he was a sophomore.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was watching games as a little kid,” Pickren said. “Watching Quinn Nelson, I wanted to be out there like him.”

The fact Nelson didn’t play as a freshman and Pickren is speaks volumes of 11th-year Tigers coach Mark Schweitzer’s confidence in him. 

“I don't do this very often,” Schweitzer said.

The last freshman to play for Schweitzer was Curt Gracey during the 2015-2016 season. Football injuries eventually derailed his basketball career.

Pickren hails from a basketball-rich family. His mother, Honey (Scott), played as a prep at Forsyth and in college at Moberly and Missouri Southern. His father, Rick, played as a prep at Grandview and in college at Valparaiso and Eastern New Mexico.

Honey was All-State as a senior in high school and still ranks among Missouri Southern’s single-season and career leaders in steals. Rick is a member of Eastern New Mexico’s 1,000-point club.

They were both Filbert Five award recipients by the Missouri Sports Hall Of Fame in 2022. Rick was an Eastern New Mexico Hall of Honors inductee earlier this year.

“My Mom won't talk to me about it,” Kylan said when asked what he knows of his parents’ glory days. “My Dad, on the other hand, talks about how good he was back in the day.”

Likewise, Kylan said his father has been more communicative while serving as a mentor for him in regard to hoops.

“My Mom doesn't give me a lot of input. She just likes to watch,” Kylan said. “My Dad has been a great influence, teaching me and giving me pointers here and there. Sometimes I don't immediately listen to him. But I know in the long run he's helpful.”

Kylan has been told he’s also ahead of his father’s pace.

“He talks about how I'm better than him when he was my age,” Kylan said. “I don't know if that's actually true or not.” 

Kylan, who is 6-foot-3, has room to grow to catch up in stature to his Dad. 

“He was 6-7 at his peak, but has shrunk a little bit and is 6-6 now,” Kylan said.

Pickren has prepared himself well for the start of his high school carer. He was an Elks Hoops free-throw state champion while in junior high and has played AAU ball for the Missouri Crush in the Under Armor Circuit. He and Nixa’s Adam McKnight, who is also playing varsity ball as a freshman, have been AAU teammates for three years.

Still, nothing could quite get Pickren fully ready to suit up in an Ozark uniform and tip off his career. Nerves got the best of him in his debut. He was scoreless and admittedly shaky in the Tigers’ first-round win at the Republic Tournament against Park Hills South 

“In our jamboree, I made my first shot, so I thought all my nerves would go away,” Pickren said. "But it was different having a real game. I felt nervous going in and couldn't find my rhythm. I was deferring and not looking to score at all.” 

“For the first time, he looked to me like a freshman,” Schweitzer said.

In contrast, Pickren felt settled in for his second game. 

“I got into the flow of the game,” he said.

“There are more of those to come," Schweitzer said of Pickren’s first four points. “I thought he looked great. He looked comfortable and is going to be just fine."

Schweitzer anticipates Pickren being a regular in his nightly rotation as a backup and possibly a starter.  The Tigers (1-2) will be at the Blue Springs Tournament later this week.

“Physically, his body is ready and he's very efficient,” Schweitzer said. “When he gets a clean look, it goes in. We've got to keep working with him on the intricacies of the motion offense and teach him what we do defensively. Once he picks those things up, I think his minutes will go up.”