Blue Springs high school senior transferring to Ohio to join renowned basketball program

By Bill Althaus
The Examiner
Braden Appelhans (13), who averaged 16.2 points as a junior, is leaving Blue Springs High School for his senior season to attend Western Reserve Academy in Ohio.

One of the premier basketball players in Eastern Jackson County is leaving the area in hopes of raising his recruiting profile.

Braden Appelhans is leaving Blue Springs High School to attend Western Reserve Academy, a coed boarding school in Hudson, Ohio, with a reputation as one of the top prep basketball programs in the country. 

The 6-foot-6 shooting guard – a member of The Examiner's All-Area first team along being named to all-conference and all-district squads last year – has made the decision to leave the Wildcats basketball program before his senior year to attend the Ohio academy. 

"It's a tough decision to leave Blue Springs High School and the basketball program," said Appelhans, who averaged 16.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 51% from 3-point range as a junior. 

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

Blue Springs coach Adam Jones said that Appelhans was expected to be a big part of the 2021-22 Wildcats, but added, "I love Braden and enjoyed coaching him, and wish him the best." 

Appelhans had nothing but praise for Jones and his Blue Springs teammates. 

"It's bittersweet because I am sad about not playing with the coaches and players I've grown up with," Appelhans said. "But in the long run, my family and I feel like it is the best decision for me. I want to get paid to play basketball after I graduate from college, and I believe the exposure I will get at Western Reserve Academy will help me do that." 

Western Reserve Academy has been consistently ranked high among the nation's top boarding schools, along with gaining a reputation for the success of its boys basketball program. 

More:Juniors Appelhans, Bruce rain down 3-pointers to lead Wildcats' rout of Jays in final

The school's website declares, "One hundred percent of our graduates go on to attend four-year colleges or universities, many at the most selective schools in the world." 

That caught Appelhans' eye, as he hopes to play Division I basketball, and he and his family believe the move gives him a better opportunity to become known by Division I coaches across the nation. 

"A lot of coaches know about WRA, and since I made the announcement that I was going there, my recruitment has skyrocketed," Appelhans said. "I received two D-I offers today – Vermont and Eastern Michigan." 

Blue Springs' Braden Appelhans, right, goes up for a shot in a game against Lee's Summit West last season. Appelhans, one of the most recruited players in the Kansas City area, is transferring to Western Reserve Academy in Ohio for his senior season.

According to 24/7 Sports, he also has offers from New Mexico and UMKC as of now. He is listed as a three-star recruit by 24/7 Sports and Rivals. 

Pete Hutchins, who will be Appelhans’ coach at WRA, said he watched the senior shooting guard play three AAU games in Atlanta this past weekend in an Under Armour tournament and liked what he saw. 

"I recruit great young men who like to play basketball," said Hutchins, who has also coached at George Mason University, Dartmouth College, Williams College and his high school alma mater, the New Hampton School (New Hampshire), another top producing basketball program. 

"I found out about Braden from L.J. Goolsby (who coaches Appelhans' AAU team, KC Run GMC). He's a great kid with a lot of talent. He's unselfish, plays hard and is willing to work to make himself a better player. 

"My main goal for students is that they love their sport. They need to be excited about what they are doing. I want to put students in a position to reach their goals, whatever they may be."