Cullen VanLeer just wants to stand out.
A senior-to-be at Pacific High School, and arguably the area’s top prep basketball player, VanLeer is doing everything he can to get noticed on the summer hoops circuit.
VanLeer has been playing with the St. Louis Gateway Boys Basketball Club, a 17 and under AAU team.
“It’s going pretty good and it’s been pretty fun,” Cullen said.
He’s not playing just to have a good time, though.
It’s an important summer for VanLeer. He’s yet to sign a letter of intent and hopes to impress as many Division I college coaches as possible this summer.
“This summer is huge for Cullen, especially since he didn’t get to play last summer,” Cullen’s father and high school coach John VanLeer said. “These three weeks in July are when he’s really got to impress the coaches. This is about the time when coaches start to make some offers.”
VanLeer is a 6-4 guard with a sweet shooting stroke who can also score inside or dish off to his teammates off the dribble. He showed off his long distance shooting again and again last year for the Pacific Indians. VanLeer, who has a 32-inch vertical leap and has run the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds, averaged 22 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game during his junior year. He’s already scored more than 1,000 points in his prep career and was named the Missourian’s All-Area Player of the Year and the Four Rivers Conference Player of the Year. He was also named to all-state teams by coaches and media.
VanLeer has already generated some Division I interest.
“As of now I have two (D-I) offers and several other coaches have contacted me,” Cullen said, mentioning that Missouri State and Belmont have offered scholarships.
The Gateway AAU team, which also has Ronnie Suggs and Cole Schroepfer of Washington listed on the roster, has already made trips to Dallas, Indianapolis, Orlando and Milwaukee. There’s an upcoming event in Las Vegas. Among the many events they’ve competed at, the Gateway squad went 5-0 at the All-American Shootout in St. Charles, went 4-1 at the Adidas May Classic in Indianapolis and went 3-2 at the Adidas Uprising League.
VanLeer scored 26 points in his team’s win over the Reach Legends at the NY2LA Summer Jam last Wednesday in Milwaukee. Some of the nation’s top recruits and travel programs were in attendance at the four-day event, with hundreds of college coaches taking in the action. According to ny2lasports.com, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Bruce Weber of Kansas State, Steve Alford of UCLA and Fran McCaffery of Iowa were among the coaches in attendance. Missouri Assistant Coach Rob Fulford also attended. The event’s website noted VanLeer’s outside shooting ability, too.
“VanLeer caught fire and at times couldn’t miss,” the website stated.
Before the trip to Milwaukee, Coach VanLeer said Cullen has played well this summer.
“I definitely think he’s opened some eyes,” John said. “He’s gotten 15 to 20 calls recently from various coaches.”
Earning a D-I full-ride is the goal for VanLeer. With that, the aim is to attract attention and get his name out there.
But in a gym full of athletes, he’s not the only one seeking attention. And that’s the game within the game that is summer basketball.
John VanLeer said his advice to his son is pretty simple.
“Be a team player and do all the little things,” John said. “Talking on the floor, playing good defense and being a leader are things they look for. They know he can shoot the ball.”
Cullen admitted he just wants to get noticed.
And he’s doing everything possible to do that.
“I know I’m going to be seen by a lot of coaches so I just go out there and play,” Cullen said. “There’s tons of coaches there, so you just hope somebody will find you.”
He thought about it a little more.
“You can only go out there and play and try to play well and try to do the little things,” he said. “And then you just hope they call you.”