One of the top high school players in the Kansas City area last year is headed to Northwest Missouri State.
Zach Schneider, a 6-7 forward from Shawnee Mission East (Kan.) High School, was announced as Northwest's first signee of the spring period Monday.
Schneider was named the Sunflower League Player of the Year for the 2012-13 season, averaging a team-high 15 points per game. He pulled in 8.0 rebounds per game and added 3.0 assists per contest.
Schneider's Lancer team set a school record for wins (21) and finished fourth at the Kansas 6A State Championship. He was named all-state by the Wichita Eagle and was a DiRenna Award finalist – given to the top player in the greater Kansas City metro area.
"We are thrilled to have Zach join our program. He has a very high basketball IQ and comes from a very solid high school program coached by Shawn Hair," said Northwest head coach Ben McCollum. "Zach shoots the ball well from the three-point line, he is capable of scoring off the dribble and he can score in the post. His size, coupled with his guard skills can make him a tough match up in our league. He has won at every level and obviously we want those kids in our program."
"Zach is a tremendous young man and comes from a great family," McCollum continued. "He will only add to our family atmosphere we have here at Northwest. His GPA was 3.89 in high school and we expect him to get the job done in the classroom here as well."
Schneider is the third player from the Kansas side of Kansas City to sign with Northwest in the last two years. Last year's top recruit, Conner Crooker, starred at Blue Valley North (Kan.) High School and helped entice Schneider to pick Northwest.
He had other offers from Division II schools in the MIAA and Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC), according to McCollum.
"Having Conner here made Zach feel comfortable," said McCollum. "This helps keep that Kansas City connection going. When you get good players out of there, good players like to play with other good players and we'll be able to get future one's. Zach will definitely help with that."
Schneider joins early signee Brett Dougherty (6-7, Omaha, Neb.) as current members of the Bearcats' 2013 recruiting class.
Both will at least add depth to a frontcourt contingent of Dillon Starzl, Kyle Schlake and Grant Cozad that is already among the best in the MIAA.
Starzl and Schlake are entering their seniors years, while Cozad will be a junior.
"I think we've got an excellent (frontcourt) and we also got guys with balanced classes within those which helps considerably," said McCollum. "The two guys we signed are totally different players. (Zach) has more guard skills and (Brett) has excellent skills with kind of a guard athleticism. They'll complement each other. It's good for the future here."
Page 2 of 2 - Schneider's outside shooting prowess should help Northwest compensate for the loss of top-long-range specialist Alex Sullivan.
Northwest also graduated guard DeAngelo Hailey, the team's leading scorer last year, shifting the remaining recruiting priorities to the backcourt.
McCollum plans to sign a guard—preferably from the high school ranks—and the best available player he can get after that.
"I think it helps keep the classes balanced, and it shows we're not going to recruit over the top of them," said McCollum. "For instance, Conner as a freshman didn't play as much as he could've other places. It allows him to be patient because he knows we're not going to recruit over the top of him junior college-wise."
Northwest finished 21-10 last season and reached the finals of the MIAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed.
The Bearcats return every contributing member from last year's team except Hailey and Sullivan and regain All-MIAA point guard DeShaun Cooper from injury.