By Rick Morwick
Joey Klaasen isn’t the leading scorer, top rebounder or ‘go-to’ guy on the Center Grove boys basketball team.
But he is, in many ways, the glue that holds the Trojans together.
“Joey is the epitome of a team player,” Center Grove coach Zach Hahn said. “He has played multiple roles and done each to the best of his ability. His work ethic and effort on the basketball floor and in the classroom are second to none.
“He is the perfect example of a role model and a player we know that many future Trojans look up to.”
Apart from leadership qualities,Klaasen is a multi-talented player who brings plenty of athletic gifts to the court.
A 6-foot-4 senior forward, Klaasen averages 9.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and is one of the Trojans’ top field goal shooters. He shoots a blistering 77.9 percent from two-point range and 38.9 percent on three-point attempts.
He also averages 1.4 assists per game and is one of the Trojans’ top defenders.
Perhaps above all, he is a tone-setter who is as much a source of inspiration as he is production.
“I’m trying to bring an emotional leadership I haven’t brought in the past,” said Klaasen, a two-year starter. “I’m trying to maybe be a little more offensive aggressively where I either drive and finish or drive and kick to open shooters.”
Although he has dabbled in other sports, basketball has always been Klaasen’s main sport. It’s his only high school sport, and many – if not most – of his teammates are lifelong friends. They grew up playing together and are now pursuing conference and postseason championships together.
“I’ve known them since I was real young, so it’s great to be able to play with them through my senior year,” Klaasen said. “I definitely like the togetherness that we have as a team. Being able to play with my really good friends, in front of the whole Center Grove community, it just feels great.”
In the midst of a highly successful season, the Trojans are bidding for the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference title and a second straight Class 4A sectional championship. They began the month of February with a 12-4 record and have been ranked in the Top 20 of the state poll.
Klaasen is a major reason why.
“Joey’s strengths as a player are his work ethic, versatility and ability to finish around the rim as well as shoot,” said Hahn, who’s in his fourth season at Center Grove. “He’s as good of a teammate and effort player that I have ever been around.
“Joey has drastically improved his ball handling, shooting and finishing around the rim. His one-on-one defense has also gotten better each year in his development.”
An honors student, Klaasen maintains a 4.2 GPA on a weighted 4.0 scale. Although he has drawn attention from a host of small-college programs, he is unsure about continuing his basketball career at the next level.
He does, however, plan to study pre-med in college.
THE KLAASEN FILE
Name: Joey Klaasen
Position: Small forward
Favorite TV show: “The Office”
Favorite movie: “Good Will Hunting”
Favorite athlete: Ray Lewis
College plans: Is unsure about playing in college but plans to study pre-med wherever he enrolls
Parents: Bob and Karen Klaasen