VanPamel takes part in hoops showcase

In the past few years, Mason VanPamel has helped push the Hillman boys basketball program to a new level of success with his strong all-around game.

VanPamel recently got to showcase those skills at the Basketball Coaches Association’s annual Reaching Higher Showcase, which was held on July 16 at Milford High School. After being nominated the last two years, but not selected, VanPamel was chosen as one of more than 100 participants for this year’s event.

“I thought it was a good showcase with good competition,” VanPamel said. “I feel pretty honored. It’s kind of a big deal to me because it’s really hard to get in to.”

VanPamel was one of three local players selected for the showcase along with Alpena’s Tyler Pintar and Mio’s Ben Lubitz.

VanPamel got the chance to participate in various basketball drills, compete in games and rub elbows with some of the state’s top players including VanPamel’s former AAU teammate Joe Duncan from Cedarville.

The excitement of being picked for the showcase was amplified by the fact that scouts attended the event. VanPamel will be a senior this fall and some scouts have already inquired about him.

“There were scouts galore. It was kind of crazy. It was a really good feeling knowing that they’re there to see you,” VanPamel said. “It pushed me to give it my all because if I play in college, that’s what it will be like.”

VanPamel averaged 18.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5-5 assists and 3.4 steals last year for the Tigers and helped them win a North Star League title, a second straight district title and make their second straight appearance in a Class D regional final.

Hillman coach Eric Muszynski has seen VanPamel add to his game each year and praised him for the balance he brings to the team as a jack-of-all-trades.

“Initially when Mason came in, he was always a big-time scorer. He’s improved every year and he’s able to do a lot of different things,” Muszynski said. “It’s just an honor as his coach, for him to represent the Hillman program. It puts us on the map and we’re glad to have him represent us.”

VanPamel has already been a force for Hillman this summer as he played with the Tigers during a 30-game scrimmage schedule and scored 45 points in a game against Kalkaska.

Though he won’t suit up for basketball season for almost five months, VanPamel hopes the showcase will serve as a springboard to a successful senior season. VanPamel is several returners to a squad that has high hopes of winning the program’s first regional championship.

“I think it made me realize I should get in there and work harder,” VanPamel said. “It kind of gave me new experience. I learned a lot from it and hopefully I can play at a higher level.”

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.