April 20, 2012

Prep school pays off for VanKirk

Kevin McCarthy

Mike VanKirk played it smart. For basketball players, being seven-feet tall or anywhere near that proximity often means growing into one's body, a time allowance for reflexes and fast-twitch fibers to catch up with standing 84 inches. So after graduating from Paraclete High, he made the decision to spend a post graduate year at La Jolla Prep, under the hoops tutelage of Coach Gary Trousdale.

photo of Mike Vankirk

That 12 months time has now paid off with VanKirk earning a scholarship from San Jose State University of the Western Athletic Conference (and possibly/probably soon to Mountain West affiliation).

So why the Spartans for VanKirk?

"I chose San Jose State because of the good relationship I had with the coaches," he explained. "It seemed like the best fit and a place where I can develop my game the best. They know what I have to build on and what I need to work on."

What does he see himself bringing to the SJSU program?

"My size, [the fact] that I can run the floor with ease; I'm good at boxing out and contesting shots and my hook shot can be unstoppable."

Trousdale offered this about his protege: "Mike needed another year. He runs the floor well, has good hands and good passing skills. He does need to get stronger but last February against Notre Dame Prep, he played right with Steven Adams (a much heralded Pittsburgh signee) and outplayed him in spurts."

VanKirk also visited Seattle (soon to become a WAC member) and had a total of 15 scholarships offers to select from. "It's a blessing. It can be stressful [in determining a final choice] but it's good stress. You dream of D-1 as a kid."

Asked what progress he made during his year at La Jolla Prep, VanKirk said, "It was more of a mental development for me. More confidence, like a mind strength."

He's looking to major in business management. "That will open a lot of doors if professional basketball doesn't work out." He is also thinking of entering the coaching ranks at some point.

He added, "I want to thank my family, all my coaches [present and past] and everyone who influenced me in getting where I am today."