Photo by Bill Roseberry
Marquette’s Shandon Boone looks to find an open teammate against Metro East Lutheran Dec. 9 at Thomas Hooks Gym in Edwardsville. The junior transfer from CBC has been a huge bright spot for the Explorers.
Even before the 2014-15 season started, the buzz around Marquette Catholic junior guard Shandon Boone was building.
“You will hear his name a lot,” Marquette head coach Steve Medford said for the season preview in AdVantage News.
Boone is a 5-foot-8 transfer from CBC High School in St. Louis. Boone didn’t contribute to the Cadets at the varsity level last season, but he’s definitely contributing to the Explorers.
He began his Marquette career with a bang, scoring 21 points in his first game with the Explorers on Nov. 24 vs. Staunton at the Metro East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off Classic. The sharp-shooting Boone knocked down five treys in the 67-38 victory.
Boone feels like his marriage with Marquette is fitting like a glove, and he was very candid about it.
“I just like the coaching staff better over here,” Boone said. “I didn’t like the coaching staff over at CBC.
“Steve Medford is that great,” Boone added with a big grin.
Boone burst onto the scene at the Turkey Tip-Off, earning his way onto the All-Tournament team with 88 points and 19 3-pointers in five games. He averaged 17.6 points per game.
“Shandon’s a great kid, a very coachable kid, a great shooter and a great addition to our team,” Medford said. “I’m just ecstatic to have him around and he’s only going to get better. He wants to get better and he wants to play at the next level and I’m going to do everything I can to help him out.”
Boone had watched from afar as another Explorer moved on to the next level in Deion Lavender. Lavender is now a contributing freshman at Southern Illinois Carbondale. He averaged 25.5 ppg. as a senior at Marquette and 25.3 ppg. as a junior there.
“I knew they were a good team and I knew they had a great player in Deion and I just wanted to come over and see what I could do,” he said.
Boone shares the starting lineup with seniors Max Goepel and Jacob Fischer, who saw major minutes last season, as well as juniors Trey Aguirre and Ben Sebacher, who saw more limited action in ‘13-14.
As the season has progressed, defenses have begun to key on Boone more, attempting to take him away as a weapon for the offense. In the home-opening 63-37 loss to Madison on Dec. 16, Trojans’ head coach Jaime Cotto-Rodriguez focused his zone defense on taking Boone away. It limited his touches, but the junior shooter still went 3 of 5 from the field with three treys and finished with a team-high 14 points.
“He’s going to have to learn to play when teams are really trying to take him away,” Medford said. “The thing I always tell the kids is, ‘If you’re not doing what you’re good at, how are you making our team better?’ Can you defend, can you do all the other things; and that’s what we’re trying to get him to do. If things aren’t going well on the offensive end, let’s really compete on the defensive end.”
Boone understands he’s going to have to mature and evolve as a player, too.
“It’s been harder to get shots off,” Boone said. “They’ve box-and-1’ed me, overplayed me so we’ve just got to get around that and get off screens and stuff. We’ve just got to find a way to get shots off.”
It’s too bad Boone can’t play Mississippi Valley Conference opponents every night, because he can get shots off against them. In a 51-49 victory over Jerseyville at Marquette on Saturday, he sank the game-winning shot in the lane as time was running out. He finished with 19 points.
He did the same thing in a 45-43 overtime win over Civic Memorial in Bethalto on Dec. 3, so two game-winners in nine games isn’t too shabby. Boone scored a game-high 16 points against CM.
“He might be one of the best shooters I’ve had and I’ve had some pretty good players,” Medford said. “Just from the standpoint of shooters — I’m not talking about players — just a flat shooter. He can really shoot the basketball and he’s got a very soft touch around the rim.”
As the 8-2 Explorers head to the Columbia/Freeburg Holiday Tournament at Freeburg beginning today, Boone just hopes he can keep improving for his team and help lead them to success, most notably for his coach.
“I just want to get 25 wins for coach,” Boone said.
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