Mario Kegler: Junior Primer

For strength, confidence and aggression, few junior wings can match Mario Kegler. The beastly slasher and shooter has made a habit out of bullying his opponents, in the best possible way.

How he got here

It was way back in the eighth grade that Mario Kegler first began to make an impression. He already stood 6-6 and as a very young wing player understood how to get most out of his height.

Kegler continued to turn heads. As a rising sophomore during the 2013 summer, he displayed a physically punishing style that was effective against opponents a full two years older.

Kegler is comfortable playing inside or out

By the end of his sophomore campaign, the Mississippi native already claimed offers from Mississippi State, Ohio State, Texas, UNLV, Arizona and others.

Kegler’s next big step took place during the 2014 travel season. Competing with MBA Hoops on the Adidas circuit, he easily led his team in scoring with 22 points per contest. He also grabbed seven rebounds per game and shot 42 percent on threes, illustrating his versatility.

By the end of summer it had become clear that, whatever one thought about his ultimate position (more on that below), Kegler warranted a spot in the national top 40.

He transferred from Jackson (Miss.) Callaway to famed Jacksonville (Fla.) ACD for his junior season and has fit in seamlessly, performing very impressively at times against top-flight competition.

He also doesn’t appear to be in a rush to decide. Kegler told me several weeks ago that Connecticut, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and UCLA loomed as factors, in addition to those schools listed above, but that he also was nowhere near formulating a narrowed list.

To 2015. …

Kegler’s prime attributes encompass two broad swaths of basketball competition. On the perimeter, he strokes long jump shots and effectively knocks down looks from the middle areas as well. Meanwhile, at 6-7 he’s a fine handler and passer who effectively hits cutters and big men posting up inside.

He’s also a bruiser. Kegler will post up himself and utilizes excellent scoring touch and advanced footwork to free himself for open looks. Though not the most explosive athlete, he’s well-proportioned with strength and impressive balance.

Naturally, many wonder if he’ll ultimately outgrow the wing as he continues to fill out with natural maturity. Already, Kegler may be a better post defender than he is a wing defender, but whether he can guard big-time collegiate post scorers or NBA four-men remains a valid question.

Still, all in all, Kegler’s offensive game should translate to the sport’s higher levels. He’s a capable standstill shooter already, and he’ll always be powerful relative to his competition. That physical gap will close somewhat as his peers develop, but he should retain at least some advantage. He may never be a great one-on-one creator or a blazing transition finisher, but he already plays a style that doesn’t rely on those qualities.

Kegler projects as one of the country’s best junior wing scorers and will be an evaluation priority for numerous college coaches in April.

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