Wyatt Kemper is a young man of few words, but many rebounds
Kemper, an 18-year-old senior power-forward for the South Walton Seahawks, is leading the varsity basketball team in rebounds with more than 60 to his credit.
In last week’s 64-60 loss to county-rival Walton County High Braves, Kemper pulled down 22 rebounds and scored 13 points, and then in a 55-40 road-victory over Port St. Joe he grabbed 12 rebounds. After the win over Port St. Joe on Dec. 13, the Seahawks sit at 5-4 overall and 3-0 in the district.
"I like being a threat," said the 6-foot-4 forward. "I like it when coaches tell their players to worry about me."
But most of all he just likes being on the court and playing ball.
It wasn't always that way. Kemper, the son of Gary and Tess Kemper of Santa Rosa Beach, started playing basketball in the YMCA recreational league in Walton County, then played as a seventh grader at Emerald Coast Middle School
"I didn't like it as much in middle school," Kemper said. "I wasn't as good. I didn't feel like I was a threat on the court."
However, he didn't give up on the game completely. He missed out on freshman tryouts at South Walton because he didn't get his physical done in time.
"I was bummed out," he said.
When his sophomore year rolled around he made the junior varsity team and this is his second year to play varsity.
"He's quite and very dedicated," said South Walton Coach John Davies. "He leads by example … he's a positive guy to be around all the time."
"It's a blast playing on the team," Kemper added. "We're like family."
And he knows his role in the family.
"He's our power forward. He's very mobile," Davies said. "And he's getting better. He wants to get better and he's very dedicated and coachable. He brings a great energy to everything we do."
Kemper says his strength is inside.
"I try to jump as high as I can and grab the ball," he said, noting he has a high vertical leap.
But he also likes when he's able to go "coast to coast" after pulling down a rebound and driving down for the score.
"I have a good shot in the paint, but I'm not very consistent on my 3s," he said.
In six games played, Kemper is averaging about five points a game.
Although he likes to score, he favors the rebound.
"I like pulling down rebounds in traffic," Kemper said. "But I'll do whatever to help the team out."