Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2007

Linzy’s love not affected by additional sport

June 21, 2007

"Basketball," Andre Linzy said.

He said it again and again. It was the combination of Linzy's dominance on the basketball court and his surprise emergence as one of the school's top tracksters that earned him the title De Soto Explorer Male Athlete of the Year.

Deep down, Linzy admitted there's still only one sport for him, however.

Basketball.

"I'm just much more interested in basketball," he said. "The main reason I went out for track was basically to get ready for the summer and to stay in shape for summer basketball."

Linzy said his time on the track had the desired effect: he feels he's already a significantly better player.

Linzy, who just finished his junior season at De Soto High School, wasn't necessarily destined to be De Soto's ultimate scoring source last basketball season. He played an important but secondary role on the team as a sophomore, but emerged throughout the season as one of the team's go-to players in late-game situations.

He finished with 6.8 points per game, good for third on the team.

When he returned as a junior, he was even better, but the team struggled mightily.

Linzy scored 16.2 points per game to lead the Cats and was second on the team with 6.24 rebounds. Still, the team hobbled to just three wins.

"It's still a hard part of the year to think about," Linzy said. "I really wasn't expecting us to have that kind of season."

Afterward, Linzy said he was determined to do his part to ensure the 2006-2007 season was an abnormality. The best way, he said he felt, was to go out for track. There Linzy hoped to improve on what were already his best qualities.

Linzy never had much trouble scoring the ball. He played fast off the dribble in his second varsity season, and represented the Cats' only aerial threat, rising above the rim for slam dunks, acrobatic layups and around-the-rim defense.

Though he also proved to be a threat from the 3-point line, Linzy said it was the running and jumping he was most eager to improve.

"I was focused on basketball, but this year I wasn't going to play during the spring," Linzy said. "My vertical has gone up by quite a bit."

Track wasn't easy, Linzy insisted. He didn't expect it to be. The found the training hard, far different from his normal spring routine of pickup games and some league basketball.

His struggles with it didn't often show through at meets, however.

Linzy immediately became a De Soto staple in the shorter boys sprints -- he ran both the 100- and 200-meter dash -- and the distance jumping events. Despite his ability to jump high, the high jump never panned out. Everything else did.

Linzy coasted through the regular season and was at his best when it mattered the most. He won triple jump at De Soto's regional track meet and also qualified for state in the 200 and the long jump.

Once at state, he leapt to the silver medal in long jump, earning the Wildcat boys track team its only individual medal from the meet.

"It turned out to be more than I expected," Linzy said. "I didn't expect to get second in state, or make it to state in my events. That was a surprise."

And perhaps the best part -- Linzy said he can already feel the difference on the basketball court.

Once the track season was over, he wasted no time strapping on the sneakers. He just returned from a four-day camp at Kansas University, and has a Aspen, Colo. camp scheduled for later in the summer.

Those, in addition to the team's camp earlier this summer and a successful summer-league team he's playing on -- his squad recently earned a trip to Indiana for a tournament -- have given him plenty of opportunity to test out his new track-enhanced skills.

"I'm able to jump a lot higher and I'm a lot faster," he said. "Once I work on my ball handling, I should be pretty good for next year."

Linzy said he's sure he won't morph into a three-sport athlete next year, and he can't even be sure he'll remain a two-sport star. He confirmed he'll be back at De Soto ready to help the basketball team, however.

Despite his success on the track, his dream remains the same -- to play the highest possible level of college basketball. That made his answer rather easy:

Andre, if it came down to a Division 1 track scholarship or a Division 2 basketball scholarship, what would you do?

"Basketball," he said.

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