Tenting, touring key offseason actions for highschool athletes | Sports activities

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The second Tiger Summer Shootout was held in Shady Spring on Tuesday, and although a variety of basketball players were on display, many multi-sport athletes were also in attendance.

A game of almost any sport could have started on the hardwood of Dave Wills High School, and there would have been a standout to lead the way.

They had Shady Springs’ own Cam Manns, who has been busy working on his baseball career this summer; Greenbrier East’s Adam Seams, who is working towards a football scholarship; Oak Hill’s Ethan Vargo-Thomas, one of the top kickers in the state; and then there was Kendrick Wilson from Greater Beckley Christian, fresh from a weekend camp at WVU.

Ask her about her main pursuits during the off-season, which are camping and travelling. Lots of both.

Despite likely careers elsewhere, everyone returned Tuesday to hone their shared love of basketball with games starting in the morning through early afternoon. Nine teams competed. In addition to the squads already mentioned, Bluefield, Independence, PikeView, Westside and Wyoming East took part.

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Cam Manns, a right-handed pitcher who is one of the area’s top aces, received the call Sunday night. If he could make it to Boone, NC he would have a great opportunity to face off against a highly ranked opponent.

Manns, an All-State first-team pitcher, was at the house of his girlfriend, another high-profile athlete in Woodrow Wilson’s Olivia Ziolkowski, who recently signed to play basketball with Marshall. He called his grandfather, Dave Hunter, who immediately agreed to drive him to Boone for the event.

“My coach from my 17-u travel team called and asked if I would like to come over last night (to Boone, NC) and play with a collegiate summer team,” Manns said. “I was for it. I played a bunch of juniors and seniors in college. I pitched four innings, never gave up a run, three strikeouts I think. I think I shot pretty well against some seniors and juniors in college.”

It’s a big summer for aspiring seniors to get their names out there.

“Since the state tournament I’ve traveled a lot, played in different places for many different colleges and tried to work my way out of it,” said Manns. “This is a big summer for me for baseball and I’m hoping for a happy ending.”

Why the rush back to play the Hoops event?

“I’m all for basketball,” Manns said. “I love coach (Ronnie) Olson and my team so I would definitely be here.”

He’s expecting another big season – after winning a state title and finishing second last winter – despite mixed results that you might not expect from an experienced team. Shady lost to Bluefield but beat Greenbrier East.

“Everyone in the state is going to want to beat us,” Manns said. “We struggled against Bluefield in the first game this morning, but we recovered against (Greenbrier) East.”

Manns was a two-time honorable mention basketball player, averaging 9.4 points per game last year

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There are parallels for Greenbrier East’s Adam Seams in his two chosen sports – football and basketball.

“Ongoing,” said the up-and-coming senior. “Much running.”

And in both, Seams is one of the better passers around.

A former basketball player, Seams has risen to become one of the top soccer players in the state.

“The camps went well, a good experience,” Seams said of his summer tour of soccer camps. “There are kids at a higher level because where I go I can’t really see that. Going to other places and seeing kids from other states. Even internationally. It’s good to see.”

He’s been playing football since he was 3 years old and he just kept getting better.

“When I was eight years old, I decided I wanted to get good at soccer and basketball,” Seams said. “I used to play baseball. But baseball is too slow. So I started focusing on soccer and basketball.”

It’s been a busy summer with still more to do.

“Actually, I just finished WVU (soccer) camp,” Seams said. “I still have James Madison Camp in Virginia, Ohio State Camp and Dayton Camp.”

He said he would love the opportunity to go to WVU.

“WVU would be my top just because I’ve been a West Virginia fan since I was little, they were in the Elite Eight, good program,” Seams said. “James Madison, I just love Harrisonburg, and then Dayton, I love Dayton too.”

With a smaller team on the hardwood, Seams said the focus will be more on the run this winter.

“We’re going to be even smaller this year, the focus will be walking up and down the court and looking people in the face,” Seams said.

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Ethan Vargo-Thomas has stirred up a storm on the recruitment path. Literally.

Oak Hill product is one of the best punter/kickers in the state

“Since basketball ended in March, I’ve been really moving and trying to get better,” Vargo-Thomas said. “I’ve been to training camps in Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Charlotte. Last week I was in Orlando for the national top 40 camp. And then I also kicked West Virginia and Marshall. I was just busy, working hard and trying to get better.”

The Top 40 was an invitational camp hosted by Hammer Kicking Academy.

“I think I kicked pretty well in West Virginia and then last week at the Nationals,” said Vargo-Thomas, an honorable mention All-Stater last fall. “There was a lot of talent there. I like to compete against people who are better than me so I can learn. At the Nationals, it was the nation’s top specialist. I was blessed to be able to show my talent against the best.”

Vargo-Thomas will be happy to let you know that he’s not just a kicker in high school, although that’s where he’ll likely hone his bones as a college player. He might play a quarterback and wide receiver this year. He moved during the three-week class period.

He kind of kicked ass a newbie and got better with an unfamiliar partner.

“I was doing pretty well as a freshman and then Covid happened and there was nothing to do and I was bored so I went outside and started kicking,” said Vargo-Thomas. “I went to camp this summer, got even better at it, and now I see it as a way to go to college.”

Vargo-Thomas is a combo kicker (punt, kickoff, and place kick), but he considers punting to be his forte.

It will be a new look on the hardwood.

“We’re looking pretty good but replacing Jacob Perdue’s and Sammy’s (Crist’s) boots will be difficult, but we have a lot of youngsters who will step up,” Vargo-Thomas said. “We’re getting bigger and sportier.”

Vargo-Thomas averaged 8.4 points last season.

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Greater Beckley Christian’s Kendrick Wilson drove back from Morgantown on Tuesday morning and made the Crusaders’ second game.

He was at home on the hardwood, the sport in which he hopes to make a name for himself.

It all started for him when the up-and-coming junior combo guard, who is more likely to turn into a full-time at GBC, put down a straight 36 on defending AAAA-class champion George Washington.

After averaging 18.4 points, he was named the second team all-state.

“I’m just staying in the gym to get ready for July,” Wilson said of what he did. “I’ve been to a camp in Ohio, I’ve been to Morgantown, but July is the big month. We are going to California in the last week of July.”

Wilson already has a list of schools that have contacted him, including North Carolina A&T last year.

“Princeton texted me, Columbia. TSU, Radford and Marshall were also in touch,” said the guard, one of the best point guards in the area as he attacked the rim like he deftly did when the Crusaders ran to the state championship game last year.

He said his mother was particularly excited about the Ivy League schools.

Wilson knows he needs to be a leader for GBC this year, with John Rose and Sherlock Padmore being the lone returnees.

“We have a lot of young people that I need to take under my wing,” Wilson said. “But we should be fine.”

Before that, it’s time for some more camping.