By Greg Shashack, The Telegraph
Marquette Catholic senior Shandon Boone is the 2016 Telegraph Small-Schools Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Boone repeats as player of the year and ends his two-year career with the Explorers as a 1,000-points career scorer.
ALTON – Shandon Boone is grateful for his two seasons with Marquette Catholic Explorers boys basketball.
He also ponders the possibilities for the two seasons he missed.
“I think about me being at Marquette for two years all the time,” said Boone, a Florissant, Mo., resident who transferred to Marquette after two years at CBC in St. Louis. “Then I would have been able to play with Deion for a couple years. I just think about my sophomore year and his senior year, what we could have done. But CBC was a good experience too.”
When Deion Lavender and his 25 points per game graduated in 2014, Boone’s arrival filled a void in the Explorers’ attack. His impact was immediate – about 18 points a game and 2015 player of the year recognition as a junior.
Boone’s second and senior season brought a repeat after the 5-foot-8 guard led the 21-10 Explorers to a Class 2A regional championship and earned 2016 Telegraph Small-Schools Player of the Year honors.
“He made a lot of progress,” Marquette coach Steve Medford said of a game grown while the scoring average remained at 18 points per game. “He got so much better offensively and defensively. I think what people overlook on Shandon was how good he defended last year. He took a lot of pride in that. And Shandon was a guy we could count on to get baskets. He did a really good job this year of being able to get to the rack a little more.”
Boone credits Medford for taking his game up a level as a senior.
“The whole summer, he and I were just working on getting better at doing what I needed to do to get better for my senior year,” Boone said. “I feel like I improved my ballhandling skills my senior year and I feel like I was able to get my teammates more involved this season than I was my junior year.”
Boone was unable to earn varsity minutes as a sophomore with a CBC team that won a large-schools state championship in Missouri. He switched to Marquette.
The defensive demands and intricacies of the Princeton offense at Marquette slowed the transition between Catholic high schools. Getting a year in the Marquette system proved beneficial.
“That was a huge factor,” Boone said. “That offense that we run, there are so many different parts to it that I was just getting the gist of it my junior year. But I had it all down by the time the season started my senior year.”
Though limited to two seasons, Boone still managed to play his way into Marquette’s 1,000-points club for his career. Boone was a danger whether pulling up off the arc for a 3-pointer or opting for a dribble drive to the basket. Not long after his arrival in Alton, opposing defenses took aim at containing Boone.
“The target came in the middle of junior year,” Boone said. “The box-and-one started then and senior year it was the whole season.”
Scoring was Boone’s most obvious contributions in seasons that produced records of 18-12 and 21-10. But his most profound improvement came without the basketball.
“He became a flat-out stopper. A great defender,” Medford said. “I think that’s why he’s getting the opportunity to play at the college level.”
Boone moves on to play NAIA Division I basketball at Avila University, a school of less than 2,000 students in Kansas City. Medford said the Eagles, who went 20-11 last season, will appreciate their decision to invest a scholarship in Boone.
“As good of a basketball player as he is, he’s even a better kid,” Medford said. “He was a great addition to our program. You can’t replace a kid like Shandon. Awesome kid, who will be greatly missed here, for sure.”