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Many hours with his mother developing inside game helped Clarkdale's Kasper become more versatile basketball player

Jan. 28—When Parr Kasper decided to make basketball his full-time focus, he began spending numerous summer nights in Clarkdale High School's gymnasium.

Kasper played baseball and basketball until after his sophomore year, when he ditched the diamond and made it a goal to become a more complete basketball player. Kasper's outside shot was his strength, but he and his mother, Cindy Kasper, would spend just as much time working on his inside shot during the summer.

The fruits of that labor started showing up last season but have really become evident this year, as Parr Kasper recently eclipsed 1,000 career points and will drive to the basket almost as much as he shoots from beyond the 3-point line.

"It's just me having a different mentality," Parr Kasper said. "You're not going to score all of your points by sitting up because that's easy to stop."

To show just how much more versatile Parr Kasper is now, Clarkdale boys basketball coach Drew Watson said he told his senior before the season he would have to average approximately 16 points per contest in order to reach 1,000 career points.

"I think right now he's averaging around 18, which is the highest I've had of anybody in my three years here," Watson said. "And it's not at the expense of the team. He's not out there taking 30 shots a game and chasing numbers. If you watch him, it's quiet 18 or 20 points. He's not a volume shooter."

Improving his versatility wasn't just about scoring more points, though. Parr Kasper said he knew he needed to step up after the team lost several seniors from last year. When informed he was averaging almost 20 points a game, Parr Kasper said it's just as important to him to make sure his teammates are involved.

"I guess it feels good," he said, referring to his 18-point average. "I feel like sharing the ball is important."

What's also important is to never lose confidence, which is something of which Cindy Kasper — who coaches the girls basketball team at Clarkdale — is constantly reminding him.

"She tells me to never stop shooting, even if it's not going in," Parr Kasper said. "It's a little frustrating (when I start out slowly) but I'll just try to hit some layups if my outside shot isn't falling. That's my way to gain some confidence."

Cindy Kasper said she didn't know her son was taking that lesson to heart, but she's always confident Parr Kasper can score in bunches at any point of the game.

"You mean he's listening to me? I didn't think he was most of the time," Cindy Kasper said, laughing. "I know the shot's there, and I don't want him to be frustrated. I tell him to just keep shooting because it's going to eventually start coming."

Watson said he's also seen improvement this season in Parr Kasper defensively, and it's all a testament to those hours he put in over the summer with his mother.

"Obviously his ability to shoot the ball and stretch the floor is big — anyone we play will tell you that — but this year he's able to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim," Watson said. "He's undersized to be what he is, but when he gets around the rim he plays a lot bigger than what he is. Now, everyone is having to close out hard (when they defend him), which allows him to have a step on them to get to the rim."

Making a run in the playoffs is how Parr Kasper wants to finish out his high school career, and he said he isn't thinking too much about scoring 1,000 points, even though the school plans to honor him for the achievement in Friday's home game against Morton. In fact, when he reached the millennium mark Jan. 21 at Enterprise, Parr Kasper said he didn't think much of it.

"It felt like just another day, like not that big a deal," Parr Kasper said.

That reaction didn't surprise his mother, either.

"That's just him," Cindy Kasper said. "He's never been one to brag on himself, but I'm really proud of him. I knew he had it in him to do it."