Although Saint Ignatius basketball is in the off-season, the Wildcats have been busy on the hardwood in June as they prepare for the 2021-22 season. This past weekend Saint Ignatius competed in the Martha Layne Collins High School Showcase in Shelbyville, KY. Head Basketball Coach Cam Joyce and the Wildcats, of course, are coming off a season that saw them reach the OHSAA Final Four for the first time in 20 years and achieve a record of 19-7. Now Joyce and his staff want to take advantage of the off-season, getting his men ready for next season and putting his players on the radar of college scouts.
Coach Joyce heads into his third season as the head basketball coach of the Wildcats and this will be his first full off-season with the program. Due to the pandemic in 2020, most of the off-season was virtual and the team rarely came together for full practices before the season.
“This is great,” explains Joyce. “This summer, I intended to get these players in front of college coaches and scouts; I feel like those opportunities need to happen when they can, and not put it all on AAU. We’ve had opportunities in June to showcase our guys.”
June has been the month of showcases for the Wildcats. They have been able to practice as a team at the University of Findlay and Xavier University and travel to Kentucky for the MLC Showcase. “This past weekend was the first weekend that Division I coaches came out to evaluate live,” says Joyce. “The state of Ohio wasn’t holding any showcases, besides the Top 100 Camp which CJ Yarian and Jon Effertz are attending, but I wanted to take the team to showcases and get them in front of college coaches.”
The showcase in Shelbyville was a 64 team tournament-style showcase in which the Wildcats made it to the Elite 8. The Cats would go 4-2 in the tournament, facing off against some of the top athletes in the midwest. Yarian, a significant piece in last season’s tournament run, received a lot of attention from Division I colleges as the 6’10” senior put on a show. “The Exposure our players got was amazing; C.J.’s recruitment has blown up after this weekend,” Joyce explains. “School’s such as South Alabama, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, VMI, Western Kentucky, etc., were impressed with his 6’10” frame and the skill to shoot.”
“We want to continue to do this each year,” Joyce says. “I think it’s important we take advantage of the opportunities for our student-athletes.”
As the Wildcats head into the dog days of summer, there is still work to be done before heading into the 2021-22 season. “The biggest key is getting adjusted to playing without Will Yontek and Henry Raynor,” Joyce explains. “Those two were huge pieces for our team last season; Raynor was a monster on the defensive end; we have to get used to not having that safety net of Raynor, sometimes you may get beat off the ball, and Raynor was there to block a shot.”
“We have a new team, sophomores C.J. Little and Carter Jackson have taken that next step, Yarian, Effertz and Shondo Green Jr. showing leadership as seniors. Charlie Hyland, who missed last season with a broken collarbone, has been playing tremendous during these showcases.”
Coach Joyce understands that his team can’t get caught looking in the past and continues to push his team to better themselves over the summer as the basketball season rapidly approaches. “What we did last year is great, and we’ll keep that momentum going,” says Joyce. “We know last year was last year, and we have a new team this year.”
The Wildcats will wrap up their team showcase on Tuesday, June 29, at Medina High School as they will play four or five games against great talent in the Northeast Ohio region. “In July, these guys will head to their AAU teams and travel around the country,” Joyce explains. “We will continue doing open gym and workouts throughout the offseason.”
Looking ahead towards the new season, it appears that Yarian and Effertz will be a main focal point for Wildcat basketball. “This is a huge summer for them; both have goals to play Division I basketball in college,” says Joyce. “I want them to continue to work on their game, C.J. becoming more confident around the basket and consistent shooter and Jon to work on his body and decision making and finishing and those two are taking advantage of that over the summer and it’s been great to see it.”
Despite it only being June, the anticipation for Wildcat Basketball is in the air as the team is hungry for another run at a State Championship. There is plenty of depth coming back to Joyce’s team next season and the Cats will continue to work on their craft heading into late summer.