May 7, 2016

Ketchel and the doubters

Kevin McCarthy

photo of John Ketchel

So what do you do if you're a baller but just don't pass the recruiting eye test? Folding your proverbial tent and disappearing is certainly one option but that's not the route Freedom High's John Ketchel is taking. No, he's keeping at it until the doubters are proven wrong.

The MVP of the Bay Valley Athletic League (BVAL), the 6-foot Ketchel won't wow viewers with his athleticism but he simply makes plays. "I'm a floor general with a high basketball IQ and I see the entire court and play unselfishly."

"John is a student of the game who sees the floor like no other and knows how to make other players better," said Larry Wallace, his Team Select coach.

So how did his BVAL MVP honor come about? "Because of my character and leadership," Ketchel offered. "I led our team in scoring and assists in league and I try to put my imprint on game in any way I can."

What aided his rise is taking some lumps early on. "I got mentally strong my sophomore year because I was the youngest kid on the team. I had to become more aggressive."

Here's Wallace with more. "I've known John since the second grade and he's like a son. He is a distributor who can shoot the three and has really picked up his defensive play." Ketchell sees Wallace as "a second Dad to me. He's always been there on and off the court."

Freedom High Coach Drew Torres provided this explanation of the Ketchel effect. "He has a presence on the court and has a calming effect on our team. John is one of those guys who you have to see a few times in order to appreciate him. He's not super athletic or explosive but he's real savvy about changing speeds and crafty at using screens. Also, we full court press so he's in great condition."

Asked to recount some of his best basketball moments, Ketchel cited three. "In our second league game this season, it was the craziest environment, a packed house with 2,000 people. We were down by 12 or 13 points and came back to win because we held them scoreless for a stretch. I had 14 second half points.

He also recalled two other occasions. "Last year we got into state and upset Bellarmine at their place. In my sophomore year, we just kept winning until we lost in the Nor Cal finals." That was a 59-51 loss to Monte Vista at Sleep Train Arena.

Cameron Schott of NorCalPreps wrote this after Ketchel participated in the recent Fifth Annual Nor Cal Spring Showcase: "The Bay Valley Athletic League MVP, Ketchel showed his scoring ability with Team Select. He has a smooth looking jumper and was a crafty finisher when beating his defender off the bounce. Ketchel can improve as a defender, but will be a great junior college addition next season if a four-year school doesn’t offer late."

Ketchel is currently looking at various junior colleges but is certainly open to offers from universities. "I'm looking at the best fit for me. I want to get to a quality four-year program.

And to think he might have ventured off into a different direction earlier in his life. "I was better at soccer than basketball but I got bored with it." Soccer's loss was basketball's gain.