‘Interesting’ Weis is already drawing Power 5 attention

Published 3:00 pm Friday, October 6, 2023

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Washington County coach Stevie Wooten knows his star sophomore, Gabe Weis, has made a name for himself with big-time college basketball recruiters.

“He’s also a super good kid. He’s a great student and one of the leaders in his church. He plays guitar. He gets up at 5 a.m. to work out. He’s such an interesting young man,” the Washington boys basketball coach said.

Weis is also becoming an “interesting” prospect for college coaches.

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“When last season started, he was about 6-5. By the end of the year, he grew an inch or two, and now he’s close to 6-8,” Wooten said. “Last year at his basketball physical he was 170 pounds. Now he’s put on some pounds, and he’s at 182.”

“He is a young sophomore (15). He might look 16 or 17 years old, but he’s now. He is maturing and growing up. His voice has gotten deeper. He just looks different this year with the way he’s filled out. Coaches see him maturing and are projecting what he can do in the future.

“With COVID giving some kids an extra year and some just being held back for other reasons, he played a lot as an eighth-grader at age 13 and playing against people maybe 19, and he was holding his own.”

LSU, Illinois, Cincinnati and College of Charleston are some of the schools that have already offered Weis a scholarship.

“I was telling anybody who would listen that he would be a Power-Five kid, but I didn’t know it would be this early,” the Washington County coach said. “I knew it was coming but thought it might be the end of his sophomore year or junior year when the offers came.”

Weis averaged 11.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a freshman when his team went 23-10 while shooting 53.9 percent from the field. He had an even more impressive summer season for Team Phenom United on the 16 and under circuit.

“He showed flashes of how good he could be as a freshman but was not consistent,” Wooten said. “He had some big games but he was on a team of older players. This year, we will have the same starting lineup with four seniors starting around him, but his role will be different.

“He’s improved his ball handling. His jump shot has greatly improved. He’s really worked hard on his shooting and ball handling. A lot of teams last year would zone us, and he would not shoot with the confidence he has now. He’s just more aggressive bringing the ball up the court. Last year, he would get a defensive rebound and look for a teammate. I had to yell at him to push the ball. This summer he was grabbing balls and taking off on his own.

“I think he’ll get eight to 10 points per game just off offensive rebounds this year. If he starts hitting the boards harder, he can put more pressure on the defense. He can dunk offensive rebounds and has a nice touch finishing at the rim. I want him to crash the boards and block shots.”

Wooten said there was a Phenom United game in South Carolina last summer he didn’t attend, but Weis’ mother sent him a video of Wise being pressured, blowing by the defender and throwing down a two-handed dunk.

“I have seen some impressive dunks, but that was the most impressive one in traffic I had ever seen. The whole gym erupted, and that went out on social media,” Wooten said. “It gained traction about who this kid is, and the next few games, he played really well hitting shots and blocking shots. That really sparked a lot of interest in him.”

That interest has included the Kentucky coaching staff. He was invited to a private camp hosted by Oscar Tshiebwe with some of the state’s top high school players, including Travis Perry and Jasper Johnson.

“They did drills and played pickup games and, apparently, he must have really tore it up,” Wooten said. “His parents said he did really well and the next day a Kentucky assistant coach reached out to coach (Maze) Stallworth (of Team Phenom United) and started showing interest.

“That has been a really big deal here. Springfield and Washington County are pro-Kentucky. He posted a picture on social media with Oscar and then Kentucky reached out and that really started a buzz around here a lot more so than the offer from LSU did. The interest from Kentucky has everybody around here going crazy.”