Chaparral’s Kenzo Nudo has been a name to watch for the past three years in the Arizona high school basketball community. The talented sharpshooter has built upon his impressive junior campaign last year, and is committed to play for Dan Majerle and Grand Canyon University.
Last year as a lanky junior, Nudo was one of the better shooters in the state, a skill he said he leaned a bit too much on in the past.
“Last year, I used to shoot more and just hang around the perimeter. This year, I’ve worked a lot on my driving in, slashing, and hitting the weight room,” Nudo said.
Nudo’s work in the offseason has given him a stronger frame in which to ferociously attack the basket, giving one of the state’s top scorers more weapons in the arsenal. His scoring has jumped up to nearly 22 points per game as a senior.
Alongside Nudo in the backcourt is senior guard Brandon Hoffer, who is averaging nearly 14 points and 7 assists per game this season. Hoffer brings his own brand of basketball to the court.
He possesses a brutish mentality defensively, making shooters work for every opportunity. Offensively, he’s a self-proclaimed floor general and is the main distributor to Nudo, as well as senior big man Ryan Bayster, and sophomore shooter Colten Kresl.
The duo brings versatility, toughness, and experience to the backcourt for Chaparral head basketball coach Dan Peterson.
“The game is so mental. So (Nudo and Hoffer) know what we’re trying to accomplish. They know how to get our team in a position to be successful,” Peterson said.
This season marks the combo’s third season on varsity. The seasoned vets have been illustrations of what Peterson and his staff have tried to instill within the program.
“Having that leadership will hopefully trickle down so that younger group can show the incoming freshmen and whoever it is, ‘Hey, this is how we do it at Chaparral.’
Their leadership is so crucial and critical to what we’re trying to accomplish,” Peterson said.
Peterson says that effect has helped the progression of younger players, including Kresl, who is the team’s third highest scorer as a sophomore.
“They have a passion and love for the game. What that does is it creates a great culture. When you see your leaders putting in that work, it’s contagious,” Peterson said. “(The other players) understand this is the expectation. We have to do extra work because that is how we’re going to get better.”
With the current roster, Hoffer thinks the Firebirds will have weapons long after the floor general is gone.
“(The underclassmen) are really talented, and will only get better and better each year,” Hoffer said. “They’ll be good coming up.”
With Nudo and Hoffer as prime examples to reach expectations and a roster consisting of experience and future potential, the Firebirds are hoping to make a deep playoff push in 2015.