By JACK VANASSCHE, Sports Editor
The University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s basketball team will be adding a new face next season in Wyoming High School (Grand Rapids, Mich.) shooter Chase Vander Klay.
Vander Klay cemented his standing as the best shooter in the state on Saturday when the senior won his third consecutive MHSAA Top Shooters Three Point Challenge title.
Vander Klay took to the court at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center during halftime of the Class A state finals with a chance to become the first player in the state’s history to win the competition three times.
“I was confident going into it,” Vander Klay said. “But I was pressured, kind of. I thought that I was supposed to win it.”
From five different stations along the three-point arc, Vander Klay collected ball after ball off the rack and started draining shots.
“I was kind of shaky at first,” he said. “The more you win, the more people think that you have to be the best. You have to keep showing them that you’re the best.”
Vander Klay did just that.
Patrick Hintz of Haslett finished his end of the final round with nine threes; a tally that Vander Klay wiped out before getting three quarters of the way through the competition.
The Wolverine signee finished with 15 3-pointers when the final ball was lobbed. Despite the title, Vander Klay expected more from himself.
“In my head I’m thinking, ‘I won. I accomplished the goal,’” Vander Klay said after hitting his tenth three-pointer. “That’s actually when I started missing some shots.”
Sunday, Vander Klay took to Twitter after the win.
His tweet read: “Despite winning the competition, I still missed 6 shots. Gotta get back in the gym, not good enough.”
UM-Dearborn head coach Taylor Langley called Vander Klay “the top shooter in the state.” Langley said that it didn’t come to be by accident.
“That’s not genetics. That’s something you have to work for for a long time. His work ethic is really, really impressive.”
Getting back in the gym is a big focus for the 6-foot-3 shooter. He said his daily routine to evolve as a shooter can vary in scale, but never in substance.
Vander Klay said that every day he shoots 100 3-pointers in the gym from each of the five positions of the three-point competition. He follows that with 200 free throws from the line. Then he runs through it all a second time.
A typical day in the gym sees Vander Klay putting up at least 1,000 3-pointers.
“It’s actually a pretty good stress reliever,” he said. “I use it as an anxiety relief.”
Langley said that Vander Klay’s work ethic in the gym is a big reason he pursued him.
“This recruiting class I’ve been getting kids that fit the mold of being really dedicated and having a really strong work ethic. Those kids are the difference between good teams and great teams.”
Vander Klay said he expects to continue shooting at an elite level with the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Being a Michigan fan his entire life, Vander Klay said the block M brand was a huge draw to Dearborn.
“I like Michigan. I’ve been a Michigan fan since I was little. This being a Michigan school was big.”
He said the team’s latest record-breaking season was a factor in deciding which school to come to.
“He’s (Langley) really bringing them up right now and I want to be a part of that,” he said. “Hopefully I can get some minutes; make a national tournament.”