JOSH Speidel has two more years of high school basketball left after this season, but Hauser coach Bob Nobbe already has seen enough of the Columbus North sophomore.
The Bull Dogs were involved in tight games with Hauser early in the second quarter in each of their past two season-openers. Both times, the 6-foot-7 Speidel took over the game and led North to easy wins.
“We started out well, and he really turned up his game and brought the intensity that was needed to break the game open,” Nobbe said. “Josh possesses a very impressive skill set for a basketball player.
“Last year, I felt like he had an impact in our game particularly on this inside,” he said. “This year, he’s taken his game inside and out, and we saw that demonstrated in our game earlier this winter. I think he’s starting to develop a complete skill set as a player inside and out.”
After averaging 12.8 points and 6.5 rebounds primarily as an inside player last year, Speidel has added a perimeter game to his repertoire. He’s improved his 3-point shooting percentage from 25 to 37 percent.
Besides shooting, Speidel also spent time on his ball-handling during the offseason.
“I’ve been working on that so if I have a slower defender on me, I can take them off the bounce,” Speidel said.
His improvements are a major reason why North is 16-1 and ranked No. 3 in Class 4A. Speidel ranks second on the team with 12.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 blocks a game and is third on the squad with 1.1 steals.
With sharpshooters Evan Henry, Sawyer Glick and Elliott Welmer on the perimeter and 6-8 banger Tori Jackson inside, Speidel doesn’t have the pressure to put up big numbers every night.
“It’s great having any guy step up and score 20 or even have four or five score 10 a night,” Speidel said. “We still fight for starting positions every day in practice, and I think that’s what is great about this team. We just push each other to be the best we can be.”
One downside to Speidel’s game this season has been his tendency to get into foul trouble. He’s had to sit out big stretches of games, including in last weekend’s wins against Southport and Jennings County.
“I’m getting a lot of dumb fouls, reaching in fouls at the beginning of the game, which is really costing me,” he said
“He’s an important cog for what it is we’re trying to do,” North coach Jason Speer said. “It’s important for Josh to be focused 100 percent of the time and not take breaks. What we’re seeing on tape sometimes is, he’s relaxing against a smaller, quicker guy, and then before you know it, he has his hands on him, and officials are calling him for a foul. We need Josh to limit some of those breaks that he’s taking on the defensive end.”
Still, Speer is pleased with Speidel’s progress at this point.
“I think Josh’s development is about right where you want it to be,” Speer said. “He’s still trying to figure out I think how fast some of the other guys are around him on the perimeter. He’s always going to have a good interior game. Once his perimeter game catches up with the interior game, he’ll have very high interest (from colleges).”
Speidel has an offer from Evansville and interest from Indiana State, Xavier and Indiana University. He went to IU’s Hoosier Hysteria and its game against Minnesota this season.
In the fall, Speidel visited Michigan for a football game. A representative from New Mexico State was at the Bull Dogs’ Jan. 19 basketball game at Perry Meridian.
“I really like Evansville,” Speidel said. “I know everyone looks at them as a small school, compared to IU, but they play right up there. They’re in a good conference with a lot of good teams, and I really like them.”
Speidel’s teammates realize how valuable he can be.
“He works hard every day,” Glick said. “During games, he’s a big mismatch, so that helps a lot. During practice, he brings it every day; and even though he’s a sophomore, he’s done a real good job of stepping up and being a leader for this team.”
Senior guard Garrett Larson said, “When he gets the ball down low, he’s been strong finishing. When he’s focused, he can really be a threat for us. If we want to go far, I think he can take us there, definitely.”