East Butler junior Jaden Rhynalds' favorite basketball player is Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Curry is only 30, yet is already third in career 3-pointers in NBA history.
Like his favorite player, Rhynalds is also making his mark early. With a year of varsity hoops remaining, Rhynalds already owns the career 3-point record for East Butler.
Additionally, not only is Rhynalds an exceptional shooter, but he also leads the state in scoring, regardless of class, out of teams that post their stats on MaxPreps.com. He averaged 25.8 points per game.
Rhynalds has been a fixture of the East Butler offense since his freshman year where he was second on the team in scoring average.
This year might have been Rhynalds most complete year as an all-around player.
"It went great," Rhynalds said. "I think I really improved over this year from last year. I couldn't do it without my teammates finding me, helping me out. They got me a lot of shots. They really looked for me to shoot."
Rhynalds' love from basketball started at an early age growing up in Prague.
Living near a park, he spent many an afternoon outside on the pavement putting up probably hundreds of shots. All that time finding his touch on the outside has clearly paid off when the winter season brings him inside to high school gyms across Nebraska.
Rhynalds mentioned he thought the 3-point record was an achievable goal from the very beginning. Head coach Greg Jahde gave Rhynalds playing time as a freshman in which he was primarily used as a perimeter shooter. His game has come a long way since then.
"Freshman year when I started, I was definitely a 3-point shooter," he said. "Jahde gave me a spot for shooting. I was mostly a 3-point shooter sophomore year. Junior year I played more roles than just 3-point shooting. I was more drive to the hoop and shoot 3s."
Early playing time was a result of the potential Jahde saw in Rhynalds before he even stepped on a varsity court.
"Watching him in junior high and how well he performed there, you could see that there was definitely some natural ability there," Jahde said. "His freshman year we thought he could be a shooter that could come in off the bench and be more of a zone buster."
Jahde has also noticed an evolution in the young player’s game.
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"You don't have to be really big to knock down perimeter jumpers," Jahde said. "That was a big part of his game his freshman year. I think as he alluded, as he's gotten older, his game has evolved a little bit more.
"Last year he was a little more of a pure shooter for us, as a sophomore, I think that's where he set the season mark for 3-pointers with 76. This year, he took a step back as far as how many 3s he made, but he finished at the rim a lot more than he had in the years past."
Rhynalds said he shoots 100 3s before going to weights in the summer.
Two of the games Rhynalds remembers as being some of his best performances from this year were Clarkson/Leigh and BDS.
Against BDS, Rhynalds scored 32 of his team's 38 points. It was 38 in the contest against Clarkson/Leigh.
"I think BDS off dribble I did pretty well," he said. "Clarkson/Leigh I made some clutch shots that really helped us towards the end of the game."
Rhynalds, who hopes to play college basketball someday, said he hopes to add another 100 3-pointers next season.
Jahde said he's always noticed a special drive in Rhynalds to be exceptional on the court. Whether it’s to break records, win, or just improve his game, Rhynalds is always making strides to become a better player.
"He's always been pretty driven from everything that I can tell," Jahde said. "Whether you want to say he's driven to break records or whatever the case may be, that could be part of it. I think he's driven to be the best player he can be."
Rhynalds showed the ability to become a threat on both ends on the court by the end of the year and is showing he's more than just the pure shooter he was as a freshman.
"It's not just that he broke the 3-point record as a junior, which is impressive to do, but this year as well he broke the points in a season record," Jahde said. "A record that's been here since 2001. He also broke the steals in a season record this year with 110.
"It tells you he's not just an offensive player. If you get 110 steals in one season, he's playing both sides of the basketball. I think he's moved into the career steals record as well. He's done a lot of different things, more than just a 3-point specialist."
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net