BELL CITY -- William Bogan has came a long way as a basketball player in a short amount of time.
In his first season of high school basketball, Bogan is averaging 18.2 points per game for Bell City (16-3) and often cracking double figures in rebounding.
The 6-foot-9 junior's top efforts included a 34-point, 15-rebound outing in an 82-59 win at Bernie Dec. 15 and a 24-point, 21-rebound performance at Puxico Jan. 10.
"The thing about Will is he's such a quick learner," Bell City coach Brian Brandtner said. "He's gotten so much better this year as we've progressed. I can only imagine how much better he's going to be."
Bogan has caught the attention of several major colleges, including Memphis, Virginia, Southeast Missouri State, Sam Houston State, Wyoming, Central Florida, Missouri and Arkansas.
Memphis coach John Calipari and two of his assistants were at the Bernie game, while Central Florida associate head coach Tom Schuberth was at Tuesday's game against Scott City.
"When these colleges are looking at him," Brandtner said, "they're looking at his hands, when Will gets his hands on the ball; his full-court ability to play the game; his passing ability; his unselfishness.
"Coach Calipari was just so impressed with how hard Will got up and down the floor and how hard he worked out there on the court."
With the rest of this season and his senior season ahead, Bogan hasn't decided where he will play college ball. He could make his choice as early as this spring.
"Right now, I've just got an open mind," Bogan said.
Even though this is his first season of high school competition, basketball has shaped Bogan's life.
"As a little kid, that's all I was brought up on was basketball, seeing people play on the court, the streets, TV," Bogan said. "Friends liked to play, so that's all I did all my life was play little league, summer ball."
However, those streets also sidetracked Bogan from the game he loved.
"I used to get in trouble in school, [and] I couldn't really get time to play because there was too much trouble I used to get in from the streets," Bogan said.
Given another chance to sort out his life and play the game, Bogan has made the most of it.
In addition to his performance on the court, Bogan has made the honor roll the last two quarters at Bell City and maintained almost perfect attendance, missing just a few days for a family vacation.
"He has made tremendous strides in a short period of time," said Joe Bowling, Bogan's foster father. "Instead of talking about a kid that should have been, we are all talking now about a kid that's going to be."
Said Bogan: "I've got something to look toward in my life. I've got a goal to face. É I can go to the league [NBA], go to college, make something out of myself."
Bogan has made the game look easy this season, and not just in scoring points and collecting rebounds.
When teams defend Bogan with double- and triple-teams, he often is able to dish the ball to the Cubs' guards for a quick score. He adds to his rebounding abilities with being able to throw outlet passes.
"Will sparks our fastbreak so many times, either just by taking the ball and dribbling out of it, or by seeing the man," Brandtner said. "He can pivot and hit a guy on the other side of midcourt with no problem from the defensive glass. If you've got a big kid that can do that, get you started [on the] fast break like that, then you're going to have one heck of a fast break."
Said Bell City senior Jeff Liggins: "He's pretty much great all around in the post. It's good because when he's hitting some nights, they'll double- and triple-team him, and it makes everybody else open. He's a big asset to us."
Bogan has not let his success go to his head.
"Will, he'll say it all the time: He wants to win for the seniors," Brandtner said. "He's not trying to do it for Will this year. This is his junior year, he's just kind of coming along, and he'll be the first to tell you he wants to win it for the seniors. That right there says a lot."
Bogan and the Cubs may get their wish. Bell City is ranked second in Class 1 and will be the team to beat in the Class 1 District 2 tournament later this month at Oak Ridge.
One thing is certain: the future is bright for Bogan.
"He's come so far this year alone," Brandtner said. "I can't imagine, by the end of next year, when he is ready to go to college. Someone's going to be getting one heck of a player and one heck of a kid.
"I just love this kid, and I'm blessed to be a part of his life."