Drawing attention: Blue Springs’ Appelhans putting himself on radar of Division I recruiters

Bill Althaus
Blue Springs guard Braden Appelhans (13) coasts in for a layup in a game against Ruskin last season. Appelhans has garnered interest from several NCAA Division I college programs this summer as he heads into his junior season.

Braden Appelhans is having the type of summer that is helping the 6-foot-6 Blue Springs High School junior forward attract a lot of attention.

“I don't usually pump up players from other high schools, but I saw Braden Appelhans from Blue Springs play three times this weekend,” Truman coach Rod Briggs tweeted. “He is vastly improved and obviously has put in a lot of work. He needs to be on Power 5 radar. Excellent shooter and has a good mid-range game.”

Perhaps that is part of the reason why Appelhans is getting a lot of attention this summer from NCAA Division I programs, who keep him busy on social media.

“I’m working hard this summer, because so many college coaches scout AAU games, and the more attention I seem to get, the harder I’m going to work,” Appelhans said. “We had a good season last year with me and three other sophomores playing with (senior) Cooper (Willich). He was our leader, and this year, we all have to step it up because Cooper graduated.”

While Willich will be missed, the 16-11 Wildcats welcome back Appelhans, Kyle Bruce, Ikenna Ezeogu and Michael Harrison. Add 6-8 forward Eli Wingert, whose junior season ended with a shoulder injury last December, and coach Adam Jones has a lot to look forward to this winter.

“We should be pretty strong this upcoming season,” Jones said after the Wildcats’ last conditioning/practice session of July. “We have a lot of talent back, and we’re excited to see what all our guys do.

“But I do know that Braden is getting a lot of attention from coaches around the area and college coaches. He has been working hard on all phases of his game, and that’s what impresses coaches.

“He’s a really good shooter, he’s getting stronger and he has a good mid-range game. And we love to see our guys work hard in the summer.”

Appelhans, who averaged 15 points and three rebounds per game last season for the Wildcats, said he wants to take his game to the next level.

“I’m more mature this year, I’m stronger and I’m just like a more complete player,” Appelhans said. “AAU ball has really helped me take my game to the next level and I want to continue to get better for the high school season.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the number of fans at each AAU game, Appelhans said many Division I coaches are reaching out to him via social media. He has been mentioned on Twitter to have interest from Kansas, Missouri, Florida State, Iowa, Baylor, Oklahoma and Creighton, among others.

“I don’t really want to talk about any specific school, but there are a lot of them,” he said. “It’s really surreal. This is something I dreamed about, and now college coaches are reaching out to me and want to talk to me sometime in the future.

“That can be a little bit overwhelming, but it’s cool too. And it makes me work that much harder. I’m doing what I love, I’m having some success and I’m getting some attention.

“Now I just hope we can find a way to play with all the COVID stuff going on. We really want to have our season. Because I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people this year.”