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Bogan has come long way in just two seasons

Thursday, April 5, 2007

(Photo)
Will Bogan laughed before getting serious for the player of the year photo shoot.
(Fred Lynch)
Bell City senior Will Bogan's most recent appearance at the Show Me Center saw the 6-foot-10 center scoring 42 points en route to a Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament title.

Bogan's future in basketball will be tied to the Show Me Center after giving an oral commitment to Southeast Missouri State earlier this year. Now with his high school career behind him -- Bogan averaged a double-double and earned first-team all-state honors in two years of high school basketball -- Bogan can look to his future in a Redhawks uniform.

"I plan on trying to get in shape and work on my game. Hopefully dominate the OVC," Bogan said. "I feel with the ability I have if I can lose a little weight, I can be the freshman of the year in the OVC."

While it remains to be seen what Bogan can do at the college level, his play at Bell City earned him co-Southeast Missourian Player of the Year honors.

This past season, Bogan averaged just less than 25 points and 16 rebounds a game. Bell City finished runner-up in Class 1 for the second straight year, falling a point short against defending state champion Jefferson.

"I think SEMO's fortunate to get a player of his caliber," Bell City coach Brian Brandtner said. "He had interest from the ACC, SEC, Missouri Valley, Big 12 -- all the major conferences. I think SEMO's lucky to get a player of his talent, and I think Will is lucky to be involved with a coach of coach Edgar's talent."

It has been a long road for Bogan, who attended Charleston High School before transferring to Bell City during the middle of his sophomore year. Bogan never suited up for the Bluejays, and had not played organized basketball outside AAU before taking the court for the Cubs his junior season.

Bogan had to deal with questions about his character during his adjustment from Charleston to Bell City. Rumors spread about the Cubs' center, but Bogan did not let the talk affect his play.

"A lot of people doubted me, tried to label me a drug dealer," Bogan said. "I'm a changed person, a changed man. All the things I've done are in the past."

In those early days of high school, going to college was not a thought for Bogan. Graduating from high school may have even been a stretch. Bogan's work on the court and in the classroom has helped college become a reality.

"In my book, that's a big accomplishment," Bogan said of getting his diploma. "All the things I've been through, that's a big accomplishment. To actually go to college, graduate from high school."

Brandtner said Bogan has grown during his time at Bell City.

"Will's growth as a person is unbelievable," Brandtner said. "His maturity from the first time we met until now has grown exponentially. From Day One, our goal was to get Will in college, basketball or no basketball. In the classroom, Will's an A-B student. He's just a good kid."

His size, talent and potential attracted several big-time schools. Despite lugging around more than 300 pounds, Bogan gets up and down the court well enough to run on a fast break when necessary.

Rebounding has been a big source of his offense in high school -- Bogan's size allows him to dominate the glass -- but the skill Bogan shows in the air on putbacks is surprising.

"You look at a kid of his size -- 6-10 and 300-plus -- and you're not expecting to see any agility," Brandtner said. "I think a lot of people were surprised to see the acrobatic things he can do in the air, the adjustments. You may think when you see him the word athlete does not come to mind, but once you see him play, you realize he is an athlete."

Add a structured strength and conditioning program along with a strength coach to the equation and Bogan could be a very different athlete come next season.

When a team like Memphis, which made it to the Elite Eight again this season, recruits Bogan, it is clear college coaches feel they can help Bogan shed the extra pounds.

"They're not all wrong," Brandtner said of the schools that recruited Bogan. "His hands are phenomenal and his footwork has gotten so much better. I know once the strength coaches at SEMO get their hands on him, SEMO will have a monster on their hands."

Bogan originally committed to Memphis last year. While that did not work out, Bogan feels confident he can succeed at Southeast.

"I talked to a lot of people and a lot of people ask me why [the switch], but a lot of people understand," Bogan said. "The people that have helped me during the last few years, my family can come see me play. I did it for me, but I did if for everyone else, too."


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