Jeff Wagner didn’t know what type of team he might be throwing out on the court during the 2017-18 season.
The Waterville-Elysian-Morristown boys basketball team was going to be young, and with a load of potential new contributors, he wasn’t sure who might step into a starring role for the Buccaneers.
As the season progressed, the answer became clear, and through the next three years, Grant McBroom led WEM in scoring and rebounding. He’s now the Faribault Daily News’ Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“We knew he was going to be a good player and we knew he was going to be a starter,” Wagner said. “We saw him play that summer, but he just kept getting better and better and getter and he kept getting more aggressive. As we went through the year we just thought, ‘We’ve got a heck of a player for three years here.’”
McBroom said he wasn’t sure what his role might be entering that sophomore season, or if that role entailed a spot in the starting lineup.
On the court that year, the Buccaneers finished with a 13-15 record, but the groundwork was laid for the future.
“How fun it was and how good my teammates were made it a lot easier,” McBroom said. “I didn’t have those high expectations my sophomore year, but then from as good as I did, that translated in wanting to work harder, which made me a better basketball player my senior year.”
McBroom credited his improvement to the help of Wagner, as well as assistant coach Jason Roemhildt, who coached McBroom and this senior class of Buccaneers since they were in elementary school.
That extra work paid off, and WEM lost only five times through the next two years. As a senior, McBroom averaged 25.2 points and 10 rebounds a game.
“His brother (Dallas) was the same way, he just had a nose for the basketball or the basketball just had a nose for him,” Wagner said. “Wherever the ball was, they were around the basketball. The ball seemed to find him, and the great players, that’s what happens with them.”
What Wagner might be most impressed by, he said, was his consistency.
That’s evident through McBroom’s shooting percentage of 56.8% from the field and 42.5% from behind the arc.
“He would never go into a slump,” Wagner said. “If the shooting wasn’t right, he would get to the rim. If the 3-point shooting wasn’t there, he would pull up for a two-pointer or from the free throw line. He has multiple ways to score, so he never really had a bad game.”
That wasn’t always the case, McBroom said. He always possessed a natural shooting stroke, but he spent the last three years repeatedly refining and perfecting it.
To compliment his ability from deep, he worked tirelessly on making himself a threat throttling toward the basket and a force around the rim.
“I think the thing I most improved on was driving and getting to the rim and finishing with contact,” he said.
Going forward, McBroom said he’s still deciding on whether he wants to play basketball in college, and if so, where. Wagner said there’s a list of coaches in contact with him expressing interest in McBroom, and said he wants the opportunity to continue watching him play basketball for however long McBroom wants to continue playing.
Off the court, Wagner still says he remembers the gravity McBroom carried as a student in his elementary school class. He carried that all the way through high school, and Wagner said it’s what he’ll miss just as much as McBroom’s ability to slice up opposing defenses.
“He’s going to be an entrepreneur one day,” Wagner said. “He has a great personality, he’s a great kid, he has an infectious smile and our whole senior class was like that.”