Those who don’t stand out statistically on the basketball court are often referred to as glue players.
Center Grove forward Joey Klaasen is familiar with the description, only now the 6-foot-4 senior has some impressive numbers to accompany it.
Klaasen has been more aggressive offensively in the Trojans’ 5-1 start this year after being utilized primarily as a screener, defender and rebounder the past two seasons.
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Entering tonight’s game at home against Whiteland, he averages 9.5 points and 6.2 rebounds.
“Being a senior, it’s my last year to be aggressive,” Klaasen said. “I played AAU over the summer and drove the ball to the basket a lot. I just hadn’t done it at Center Grove because we had Travis Roehling, and that was his role.
“Now, Nate (McLain) and I both do that.”
Opposing squads attempt to prevent 6-9 junior center Trayce Jackson-Davis (27.2 ppg, 9.2 rebounds, 5.7 blocks) from dominating both ends of the floor.
Any double or triple teams that come out of it create, with good ball movement, scoring opportunities for Klaasen, McLain and the junior backcourt pairing of Spencer Piercefield and Ben Nicoson.
A good perimeter shooter with four 3-point baskets in seven attempts this season, Klaasen is also second only to Piercefield in free throw accuracy at 82.6 percent.
Klaasen proudly leads the team in taking charges with five. A trio of teammates are tied for a distant second in this category with one each.
“Joey has improved his game each offseason through hard work,” Center Grove coach Zach Hahn said. “He brings a versatility to our team because he is 6-4 and can shoot it as well as finish at the rim.
“He has been our most consistent and toughest player this season.”
Off the court, Klaasen carries a 4.2 grade-point average that ranks him 55th of 608 students in his class. He’s been accepted into the pre-med program at the University of Cincinnati and has applied at Indiana and Purdue as well.
Wherever he goes to college, Klaasen will part ways with teammates who have been his friends since early elementary school, including classmates McLain and Noah Gillard. The senior even recalls noting the hoops potential of Jackson-Davis as a first-grader.
Together, they have an opportunity to make the weeks ahead memorable by claiming the program’s first back-to-back sectional titles since the mid-1980s.
“I’ve known most these guys my whole life,” Klaasen said. “As a team, it’s fun getting better together.”
Name: Joey Klaasen
Family: Parents Bob and Karen; brother Jon, 19
Favorite TV show: “The Office”
Favorite food: Mexican
Favorite movie: “Elf”
Favorite athlete: Reggie Miller
Favorite team: Indiana Pacers