Two-time defending champion Kansas City Pump N Run’s reign is over at the Metro Sports/Kansas City Prep Invitational.
The local 17-and-under team, which includes Lawrence High senior guard KJ Pritchard and Bishop Seabury senior forward Georgi Funtarov, fell to Iowa’s Kingdom Hoops, 60-58, in Sunday’s finals at Mid-America Sports Complex West in Shawnee.
“It was one of those tough ones,” Pump N Run coach L.J. Goolsby said of a game lost on a stickback at the buzzer following an airball from the outside. “It was one of those grind-it-out games back and forth. Our guys played really well all summer long. We came up short, but got all the way to the championship.”
Kingdom Hoops, which is coached by former Iowa State guard Jake Sullivan, had defeated future KU guard Conner Frankamp’s Pump N Run 16 team in Saturday’s 17-and-under semifinals.
“I was hoping we’d get a chance to play each other. It would have been fun. At least one of us would have won a championship,” Goolsby said with a laugh.
Of the 6-foot-7, 195-pound Funtarov, who has received early scholarship offers from Bowling Green and Weber State, Goolsby said: “He’s a skilled face-up kind of 4-man. He creates a lot of mismatches for us. He can step out and shoot it and put it on the floor a little bit.”
Of the 6-2, 175-pound Pritchard, Goolsby said: “KJ is just starting to figure things out as an all-around player. He’s starting to handle the ball a lot more. He shoots it well, plays with a lot of confidence. The thing I like the most when I saw him develop over the summer was attacking the rim, putting it on the floor and getting to the basket and not just settling for three-pointers.”
Goolsby said Pritchard, the son of former KU great Kevin Pritchard, has heard from Air Force and Oral Roberts.
“I don’t know what offers will be there (as his senior year progresses), but I think something for sure will play out for him,” Goolsby said.
Another Pump N Run player who didn’t play in the final because of injury is Thomas Diaz, a 6-5 senior from Seabury, who is known for his driving ability and defense. He’s expected to land at a midmajor college.
The K.C. tournament completed a hectic month of July for Pump N Run, which competed at two tournaments in K.C., one in Indianapolis and one in Las Vegas in a 20-day span. Players who distinguished themselves included: Gavin Thurman, 6-7 forward, Wichita Heights; Mason Wedel, 6-1, De Soto; and Jalen Love, 6-2, Wichita East.
Nationally, Goolsby has been impressed with three players with KU on their lists: Mitch McGary (6-10, Brewster Academy, Wolfeboro, N.H.); Shabazz Muhammad (6-6, Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas); and Marcus Smart (6-4, Marcus High, Flower Mound, Texas).
“One you fall in love with at how hard he plays consistently is Marcus Smart,” Goolsby said. “The way he kind of puts those guys on his back. To win the championship (at adidas Super 64) in Las Vegas was pretty impressive. The guy doesn’t really have a position. He just gets so much stuff done on the floor. He wills his team to win.”
Veteran AAU coach Goolsby said he’s looking forward to a bright future with Pump N Run.
The landscape may change a bit starting next school year.
“I am hoping the NCAA makes changes to make it shorter tournaments on the weekends in July and open up April a couple of weekends,” Goolsby said. “It would benefit everybody. I think it really will help the kids. They mentally won’t get so fatigued and physically as well. It’s tough when they have to play 20 days in July. By the end of it, especially after Vegas or Orlando (last week), the kids are really tired. We’re fortunate because our last tournament is back home. Guys are a little more energized playing back home.”