Productive, Exhausting Summer For Funderburk

Derek Funderburk has had a grueling summer, but the 2016 Ohio State is sure it's all worth it.

For Derek Funderburk it’s been a busy summer, as in eight cities, over 6,600 miles kind of busy.

The 2016 Ohio State commit has been working hard on the AAU circuit as a member of the King James Shooting Stars with tournaments and individual showcases taking him to Sacramento, Calif., Dallas, Minneapolis, Virginia, Atlanta and Chicago with the 6-9, 205-pound post player finishing his hectic summer tour this week at the Super Showcase in Louisville, Ky.

While he feels the aggressive summer schedule has done wonders for his game, Funderburk is looking forward to a break from all the travel.

“It’s been a long, long summer,” the No. 51 recruit in the 2016 class said. “I haven’t been home in three weeks.

“I think I’ve played pretty good this summer and I’m just ready to finish it out, keep doing what I’ve been doing, and finish it out this week at Louisville.”

Funderburk’s stops have included playing for King James in the prestigious Peach Jam tournament in Atlanta and as a member of the USA Midwest All-Stars at the Nike Global Challenge in Chicago.

Playing against some of the best high school talent in the country has payed dividends for the post player as King James coach Quincey Simpson said Funderburk has improved virtually every aspect of his game.

“It wasn’t nothing that we wasn’t already used to,” Simpson said of the level of competition. “It was definitely an eye-opener, a good environment for my guys.

“His presence for us is like no other, he does a lot of things. He does exactly what is expected. He takes productive criticism and that’s why he is continually getting better.”

Specifically, Funderburk has been working on expanding his game outside the post. His athleticism and stamina are already great assets for someone of his size, making him a force in the transition game. Now he is trying to improve his ball handling and extend his jump shot, both of which would add value to his pick-and-roll game.

“My first step, my quickness, my ball handling.,” Funderburk said of his areas of focus. “I need to improve my shooting a lot more. My decision making, my all-around game has improved. Really what I need to work on a lot more is my jump shot. Everything will fall from that. For me attacking the rim more, I really just need to get more of a scorer’s mentality.”

While working on those skills Funderburk averaged 9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks with 63.3 percent shooting in five games in Atlanta. That tournament was his favorite of the summer, Funderburk said.

Throughout the exhausting summer Funderburk has maintained close contact with the Ohio State staff, talking with Jeff Boals nearly daily and head coach Thad Matta less frequency. His commitment remains firm and the Lakewood St. Edward High School product said he was glad to put the process behind him.

Now it’s time for him to do some recruiting. Funderburk has been developing a relationship with fellow 2016 big-man commit Micah Potter and is working to bring in five-star wing Gary Trent Jr. Trent has offers from the likes of Kansas, Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke, but Funderburk is pushing the 11th-ranked player in the class to forego those traditional powers for the Buckeyes.

Those recruiting efforts will continue, Funderburk said, but thankfully his AAU tour is nearly over.

“I’m just happy it’s almost over," he said. "I’m just ready to go home and relax.”

Relax in the gym, that is.

“After this summer I am going to really push myself, get back in the gym and work on the little things to improve my game and help my team win," he added.

But at least that work will come in his own area code.


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