Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Deadeye Easton: Hoxie Sophomore's Summer Of WORK Paying Dividends

Hoxie High's Easton Slipke spots up from way, way beyond the confines of the arc.

A shot six feet behind the 3-point line is not out of the sophomore's range.

Sequestered in gyms all summer long, Slipke is now reaping the rewards of a 1500-2000 shots per week regimen.

Gauging his grit against high-caliber college players at nearby Colby Community College (KS) has also worked in the 5-foot-10 off guard's favor.

Slipke's deft long range touch and knack for creating his shot via the stepback has Steph Curry comparisons floating around the gym.

 Slipke is as fearless as he is unlimited with his suddenly quicker release. This much was evident during Hoxie's wild 79-75 loss to Ellis back on Dec. 11.

Slipke erupted for 27 points on the strength of eight treys, pulling from deep amid double teams and face-guarding.

Hoxie overcame an alarming 17-2 deficit to start, eventually seizing a nine-point third quarter lead in a sheer game of quick-hit spurts.

With fellow sophomore Latham Schwarz and several others, Slipke and Hoxie possess a cadre of 3-point shooters.

"We push each other every day," said Slipke.

"We shoot in partners shooting and really just work hard to keep firing up shots. We've been playing together since the fifth grade. I can recall us winning first in a lot of tournaments, so we've created a bond that's lasted."

Hoxie hopes it will help them overcome a 2-4 start.

"All of our games have been close, so we're hoping we can overcome it," said Slipke. "We have two seniors and no juniors, so we're pretty young. If we keep working, good things will come. We're hoping to get to states when it's all said and done."

Pushing Slipke's evolution from a role player to a go-to-guy has been Kevin Jolley, the assistant coach at aforementioned Colby. Jolley, a year round basketball trainer with a keen eye for talent, has worked relentlessly with the young shootist.

"He's a smart player, he doesn't just jack up threes he's actually shooting 50 percent plus from there," Jolley explained.

"He's making about four a game. He understands key concepts like spacing and when to get the shot off. We work on the stepback, jabs, and more to create space."

Working with Jolley, Slipke understands what's expected of him. Jolley, despite being vastly undersized as a 6-foot-4 forward, was able to prolong his career overseas. He even played his senior year at Division-I Quinnipiac despite a torn ACL.

So, Slipke understands he can't possibly pull off any shortcuts with Jolley around.

"It gets heated sometimes when we play one-on-one and that's why I like it," Slipke said.

"We'll get competitive and talk a little trash. (Jolley) has a big heart. I didn't expect a college coach to be as outgoing as him.

And given the cutthroat world of college basketball and recruiting, Slipke also didn't expect Jolley to keep pushing him and keep tabs on his numbers throughout the season.

With increased defensive focus as the team's scoring threat, Slipke is bent on expanding methodical ways of getting free and piloting a full-out perimeter assault.

"He got to play a lot of one-on-ones with the college guys and I told them, 'don't take it easy on him," said Jolley.

"He got his butt kicked and made shots from moves we worked on so I told him he should be unguardable at his level. Last year, he played with a few seniors who were going to get a majority of the shots but 10PPG wasn't bad for a freshman. This year, with him being the man, he sees a box-and-one every night."