Wisconsin Big Man the 'Center' of Attention

Many basketball fans don't realize that former Central Michigan Chippewa and current Los Angeles Clippers center Chris Kaman was only 6-foot-2 as a high school freshman. By the time he was a senior at Wyoming (Mich.) Tri-unity Christian, Kaman had grown nine inches and earned a scholarship to CMU. Dave Bliss appears to be following a similar path to success at Wausau (Wisc.) West High School.

Dave Bliss just might be one of the tallest boys ever to earn the Eagle Scout badge.

Of course, two years ago when he became an Eagle Scout, he was a gangly 6-foot-5 sophomore playing on the varsity. Prior to that, he was just another 6-1 freshman trying to standout on the freshman team.

These days, Bliss is a muscular 6-10, 245 pounds. Wausau West head coach Chris Schell said he feels Bliss can add another 20 pounds of muscle to his large frame.

"He wasn't a kid who jumped out at you back then," Schell said. "He went from a 6-1 freshman to 6-10 today as a senior. He's improved tremendously with his work ethic."

Schell said Bliss emerged last season as a 6-7 junior post player when he became the focal point of the Warriors offense, averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds per game. He was named 1st team all-conference in the Wisconsin Valley.

This year Bliss is being double and triple-teamed, but still averaging 20 points and 16 rebounds per game in leading Wausau West (13-4, 10-3 WVC) in its quest for a conference championship.

"We're still in good shape, if we win our last three games we should win the conference," Bliss said.

The Warriors are currently in a battle with crosstown rival Wausau East and Rhinelander, both of which have 10-2 conference records. Tomorrow night the Warriors visit East for bragging rights in Wausau and perhaps the entire Wisconsin Valley.

Once again, all eyes will be on Bliss, from the Lumberjack defenders to some interested college basketball programs, including Central Michigan. The Chippewas are no stranger to Wausau West, having signed punter Brian Brandt out of there four years ago.

"Dave has been flying under the radar, but Central Michigan has been recruiting him for about a month now," Schell said. "One of the coaches was here last Tuesday and I expect them to be back."

Schell said Bliss has developed into a great back-to-the-basket post player. Could Bliss develop into the next Chris Kaman though?

"That's what I like about CMU," Bliss said, "the fact that (CMU head coach) Jay Smith coaches the big guys and has had such great success at Michigan and now at Central."

Bliss said he is focusing primarily on CMU and Southern Illinois, but also has invitations to be a preferred walk-on at both Iowa and Washington State. The College of William & Mary has also expressed interest.

"I'm looking for a school that has a nice campus atmosphere and meets my academic needs," said Bliss, who carries a perfect 4.0 grade point average. "I'm looking for a program where I like the coaching staff and players, one where I feel I can be successful."

Bliss said he hopes to schedule an official visit to CMU after his high school season concludes sometime in March. After that, he said he plans to make a verbal commitment and sign his letter-of-intent in April during the spring signing period.

Currently, Bliss said he has no scholarship offers, but hinted that the Chippewas seem very close to offering, while the Salukis are expected back in Wausau soon for a third visit.

"He's keeping his options open," Schell said. "I think he can be a good one, wherever he goes."


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