Kernels attacking summer basketball
The Mitchell Kernels have been logging some hours on the basketball court.
Todd Neuendorf's second summer as the Mitchell High School boys basketball coach is underway as he continues to lay his foundation for his program.
Compared to last year at this time, Neuendorf said everyone is on the same page and pulling in the same direction.
"The guys kind of know what to expect a little bit. I know what to expect from them," Neuendorf said. "We are light years ahead of where we were last year as far as things we are doing. We are real active. We have already played a lot of basketball."
And they've got more basketball on the calendar. This week, the Kernels conducted a skills camp for 3rd-through-12th graders, emphasizing individual skills and fundamentals.
"We have got a lot of kids that are in the gym everyday working on their game and you are watching them get better," Neuendorf said. "The main thing about summer basketball is it allows the kids to work on stuff."
This week's camp is just part of the story. The varsity team recently competed at the University of Memphis team camp and finished 5-5, competing against teams from Tennessee, New York and Florida. The Kernels almost defeated White Station, Tennessee, which played at the Corn Palace last season during the Mike Miller Classic (now the Hoop City Classic). Mitchell defeated teams from New York and Florida.
"We went down there and we went nose-to-nose with everybody," Neuendorf said. "We played 10 games down there and we split. There's some we won that we probably should have lost. There's probably some we lost that we should have won."
Neuendorf said playing against the competition exposed their weaknesses, which he said included guarding the basketball and rebounding.
"Those two things we came away from there saying 'Holy cow we have to fix those two things,' " Neuendorf said. "That's what you find out about summer basketball."
The Kernels also played against Houston (Tennessee) High School and its 6-foot-7 sophomore-to-be Mason Miller, who is the son of former Kernel great Mike Miller.
Mike, who is now an assistant coach for Memphis, was unable to watch the Kernels play due to it being an NCAA dead recruiting period. However, he was allowed to watch Mitchell vs. Houston because his son played in the game.
Miller and fellow former Kernel Ernie Kuyper, who is the Hoop City Club Basketball President, came away impressed with Mitchell.
"Ernie said 'Wow, you could see there's even been a change from when we saw you play to where we are at now,' " Neuendorf said. "We want to keep that going and we will try to keep getting better as the year goes on."
Up next, the Kernel junior varsity players will compete in the Cornbelt Team Camp. Mitchell also has team camps at the University of South Dakota and Northern State University on the schedule this summer as Neuendorf continues to lay his foundation.
"We have got a couple of kids that people are just going to be amazed when they watch them play next year," Neuendorf said. "They are just going to be in awe of where they are at right now."
Neuendorf is also exposing the younger levels to high-level basketball this summer.
On Tuesday, Mitchell began its summer league for 4th-through-8th graders that will run for the next five weeks. Last month, the Kernels had a 12U team qualify for the U.S. Olympic Nationals later this summer in Indiana.
"We have a seventh grade team who has been playing very well and we have an eighth grade team who has been playing pretty well," Neuendorf said. "Those kids are getting a lot of opportunities to play too and we are just plugging away."