On the rare occasion that John Kucela has to raise his voice because of something Chris Hall has done wrong, it’s not easy for the Lakeside High School basketball coach.
“It’s kind of hard to really get mad at Chris,” Kucela said while cracking a smile. “His personality – he’s just good to coach. He listens to you.”
The Panthers coach describes the senior as the team’s “jokester” and “cut-up.”
Once the game begins, though, the joke is on the opponent.
As a junior, Hall averaged nearly 18 points per game while contributing in all facets of the game.
The 6-foot-3 senior is listed as a guard/forward on the roster. That designation is selling him short.
“He kind of plays anywhere we need for him to play,” Kucela said. “He’ll play the point, if the pressure’s heavy. But he can play inside or outside for us.”
In a preseason scrimmage victory over Fox Creek, Hall scored 25 points. It was reminiscent of a performance last season in which he had a career-high 33 points in a double-digit win over Washington-Wilkes.
“I just try to give my team the opportunity to give me the ball,” Hall said of taking the scoring role.
Hall pulls double duty, also playing soccer for the school team. The Panthers advanced to the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs last season.
Soccer helps him to stay in shape in the off-season. He admits, though, that he’s a basketball guy first and foremost.
That persona is built not only by practicing his own game, but also studying the game of others.
“I like to watch games on TV,” he said. “I’m just trying to get moves and ideas I can use when I play.”
Lakeside features a young roster this season, with only three seniors.
Kucela noted that he’s excited to see the mix of the seasoned upperclassmen and strong young talent.
In Hall, Kucela said, the less- experienced players have an example of an all-around player who isn’t afraid to take control when the team needs it.
“He just has that knack about him that he’s real aggressive,” Kucela said. “He knows that he can get open on offense in our system, and he does a great job doing that.”