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Schwab: Gentry getting serious about taking game to next level

Published: Friday, June 27, 2014 10:50 p.m. CDT
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(Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
St. Charles East senior point guard Cole Gentry is set to compete at a basketball camp at NCAA Division I American University in Washington, D.C., this weekend.

Cole Gentry isn’t known as a hothead, but the St. Charles East senior point guard flashed a temper at times Wednesday night during the Geneva Summer League tournament.

On a few occasions, Gentry gave the padding behind the basket in Geneva’s Mack Olson gym a thwack when the ball didn’t roll his way.

It was an unseasonably mild night, not the usual baking heat associated with summer basketball, so Gentry’s reactions weren’t a result of being overheated.

Rather, Gentry feels a sense of urgency to elevate his already impressive game, with the coming weeks likely to go a long way in determining his basketball course.

Gentry, attending a basketball camp at Division I American University this weekend in Washington, D.C., is especially focused on finishing around the rim to take greater advantage of his ability to break down defenders off the dribble.

“That’s one of the things this summer I’ve been working on,” Gentry said. “I can get to the basket, I just need to finish it. So when I’m missing the ones I think I should be making, sometimes it gets to me a little bit. I just need to keep working, stay in the gym, keep working on finishing.

“I wasn’t too mad, just more disappointed in myself. It’s just one of those things I’ve got to keep getting better on, finishing with contact, especially.”

Gentry is a surefire college basketball prospect – he already has an offer from Division II Lewis University – but how much additional interest he generates this summer will be an interesting case study in college recruiting.

From a skill-set and intangibles standpoint, Gentry is a D-I-caliber point guard.

He has tremendous ball-handling ability and floor vision, crafty instincts and is an above-average shooter.

He plays with uncommon flair, and is one of the most entertaining high school basketball players the Tri-Cities has produced in recent years.

But Gentry is small, by D-I standards. Being an undersized guard was a recruiting question mark for Gentry’s former Saints backcourt runningmate Dom Adduci, who wound up as a recruited walk-on at Drake, and the sub-6-foot Gentry is an inch or two shorter than Adduci.

Gentry plays AAU basketball for the Illinois Stars, with July looming as a key evaluation period to show he can thrive against strong competition.

He said he’d like to close in on a college decision in the coming months, preferably before his senior season.

“I know some guys don’t want to play if they’re not going to play D-I, but I love the game, so I’m going to play wherever I can,” Gentry said. “Obviously I want to go to the highest level I can, but to me it’s all about just playing, finding the right fit and finding somewhere I’ll enjoy playing basketball for four years.”

Gentry’s continued emergence helped the Saints to an unbeaten run through the Geneva Summer League until the Saints lost to St. Charles North on Wednesday in the semifinal round of the league-ending tournament.

In addition to focusing on his finishes, Gentry said East assistant coach and former NBA player Everette Stephens is mentoring him on his pull-up jumper, which could become a dynamic weapon since defenders tend to sag off him for fear of being exploited off the bounce.

Saints coach Pat Woods said he thinks Gentry “can play at any level” and is confident he’ll find a strong fit, D-I or otherwise.

“He’s a good student, he’s a good student of the game, so I think he’s going to have a lot of opportunities when all is said and done,” Woods said.

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or jschwab@shawmedia.com.

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