Last month, Pearl River rising junior forward Kevin Degnan earned a spot among the top players in Section 1 on the Hudson Valley team at the Basketball Coaches Association of New York 2012 Summer Hoops Festival.
The tournament begins today and ends Sunday, matching all stars from all over the state in boys and girls basketball in a series of games at the Johnson City Schools. The full schedule can be found here. Degnan's Hudson Valley team opens against Rochester 7:45 p.m. tonight.
"I'm excited for it, to play against great competition," Degnan said. "It should be fun."
Degnan quietly emerged as his sophomore season went on, showing mobility, a feel for the game and shooting skills not often found in a 6-foot-8 high school player. He averaged nearly 12 points per game, but more over the final month of the season.
"The last three weeks of the season, he was around 14 (points per game)," Pearl River Head Basketball Coach Jerry Houston said. "I really saw improvement in the confidence level in him the last month of the season. He played really well. His body language, confidence and the bounce in his step made some good strides down the stretch."
Houston wasn't the only one who noticed. The college recruiting process really kicked into gear for Degnan in July. He said he has offers from Fordham, Fairfield and Siena, all of which are Division I programs, with Iona, Boston U., Yale and Colgate among those showing interest.
"I hope it is a boost confidence-wise," Houston said. "As long as I've been coaching and playing, it's atypical to get this kind of attention at his age, with the fact he does have two full years to go."
Degnan already showed a versatile offensive game, with the ability to play inside, shoot from three-point range and provide good passing skills for a big man.
"I think what makes him potentially very good, the first thing is obviously his size," Houston said. "But some high school kids you see with size, they are projects. They have to learn to become comfortable in their bodies. The coordination comes slower in big kids. With Kevin, he's a good-sized kid, but he's very mobile. He has great agility. He can really get up and own the floor. He's not a kid who labors up and down the court. He's not a plodder."
Houston said one goal for Degnan is to continue to develop his entire game.
"I got a lot better since the end of last year for Pearl River," Degnan said. "I have been working on my game every day.
"I would say ball handling and being more of a two or three guard (is my focus). I can shoot. I can play the post, too. I want to get my handle up. I want to get my quickness up, too."
Degnan has worked on those things with his AAU squad, Team Frenzy, which features some players bigger than Degnan, allowing him to play outside more. Degnan recently got back from the Fab 48 Tournament in Las Vegas. He also went to a tournament in Philadelphia this summer.
"These are all Division I players," Degnan said. "It is very good competition."
This all prepares Degnan for playing a much larger role on the Pearl River varsity as a junior. The Pirates lost three starters, including top scorers Joe Clinton and Austin O'Toole, and their key reserves to graduation.
"I've been looking forward to that since sixth or seventh grade. Being a captain and helping guys out wherever the need me," Degnan said. "Being the lead person. I'm very excited for it."