Columbus East’s 3-point shooting weapon is no secret.
With 30 long-range bombs in eight games this season, Zach Sanders is one of the state’s most prolific 3-point shooters. Even though everybody in the building knows his range, he’s still managed to put up big numbers.
“I’ve been shooting 3s for as long as I can remember,” Sanders said. “It’s a shot I like to shoot, so I’m pretty confident in it. I’m kind of a streaky shooter sometimes, but I just have to be confident and keep shooting, and it will go in.”
Sanders, who is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range, leads the Olympians with 15.6 points a game heading into a pair of weekend contests.
He has had a few big games already.
The 6-foot-2 senior knocked down seven treys in a season-opening win against Heritage Christian, five in a win against crosstown rival Columbus North and six in last week’s loss to Crown Point in the Noblesville Tournament. In that Crown Point game, he nearly matched Indiana University recruit Grant Gelon basket for basket.
On the other side of the spectrum, Sanders struggled to a 1-for-9 outing from 3-point range in a loss to Class 4A No. 6 Lawrence Central at Marion. The occasional off night isn’t going to change how the Olympians want their top gun to play, though.
“He’s going to shoot the 3 for us,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “He has the double green light, and we’ve tried to get him the ball where he can shoot it.”
And if he doesn’t get it where he can shoot it, Sanders is now comfortable trying to create his own shot. He is shooting 55 percent from 2-point range and 47 percent overall from the field.
“I think this year, my driving the ball has gotten a little bit bit better,” Sanders said. “I just have to be aggressive going to the basket because people are going to start guarding me outside more, so I have to learn to drive the ball.”
“We don’t think Zach is a one-dimensional player,” Chitty said. “We think he’s a guy offensively that can not only shoot the 3, but attack the basket and score points from inside. We just think that will put a whole new dimension to how you guard him. If you get too tight, he’ll go around you.”
Chitty said Sanders also has made big strides on the defensive end.
“With those two phases to his game — attacking the basket and defense — I think he’s going to have a chance to play collegiately somewhere,” Chitty said.
Sanders has visited West Florida and IU-Kokomo and has been to a camp at Indiana Wesleyan. But he isn’t sure if he will play at the next level.
“I’m looking around to see if there’s anyone interested, if someone needs a shooter,” Sanders said. “I could play in college; I could not. I don’t really know yet.”
For now, Sanders is intent on doing what he can to help the Olympians improve on a 3-5 record. East visits Franklin County on Friday and plays Shelbyville Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“I have to give it to my teammates,” Sanders said. “They’re getting me the ball, and I just have to keep knocking down shots for our team so we can start getting some wins down the road.”
Name: Zach Sanders
School: Columbus East
Key stats: 15.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 47 percent field-goal shooting, 43 percent 3-point shooting