Prep Athletes: Ochan, Hayes, Oyet
Ten wins, and just one loss, the Mankato East boys basketball team is dominating opponents this season with a few seniors leading the way.
KEYC News 12 Sports Rob Clark tells us why Uhana Ochan, Damani Hayes, and Edmon Oyet are this weeks KEYC Scheels All Sports Boys Prep Athletes of the Week.
A trio of seniors have the Cougars playing like one of the top teams in Class AAA.
Damani Hayes, Uhana Ochan, Edmon Oyet each bring something different to the squad, and they all are close on and off the floor.
"Damani, that's like my brother, I've been playing with him since freshman year on Rise. When I first came to East, he was the first one to say what's up to me, so he's my guy. And Eddie, that's my cousin. I used to come here to visit, so I knew him since I was like fourth grade," said Ochan, prep athlete.
"I consider us brothers, we always preach family in practice. With all the seniors, especially Uhana and Eddie, we're brothers, and on the court we reflect that, we're always building each other up and making each other better," said Hayes, prep athlete.
While Hayes and Ochan tallied a lot of minutes with the varsity squad as underclassmen, Oyet burst onto the scene last year developing into an all–around player that dominates down low and is dangerous from the perimeter.
"I don't know if we've had a kid improve as much from his freshman year to senior year as he has, probably the middle of his junior year to now has been ridiculous," said Joe Madson, Mankato East head coach.
"I just try to go out there and have the most fun and enjoy it as much as I can, and it's exciting to play with these guys," said Oyet, prep athlete.
Exciting is a proper way to describe the Cougars big three, whether it's a big block, or a monster dunk to change the complexion of a contest.
"That gets everyone more into the game. We get more cheering from the crowd, the benches go crazy, forces the other team to call a timeout, and it gives us even more hype," said Ochan.
Ochan's proved to be a dunk machine in his time at Mankato East ... but that just skims the surface of what he brings to the team.
"Uhana is a great finisher, he's very athletic, but he has great IQ, his outside jump shot has gotten a lot better, but he's grown into a great defender, and a real threat on offense," said Hayes.
Hayes is lethal as well, the guard netted his thousandth point earlier this season and is the heart of this Mankato East squad with his leadership and energy.
"Damani's been playing since his ninth grade year, he was one of those kids that was playing as hard as many of the seniors. That set him apart from other kids. He's probably going to go down as our leading scorer. He went over 1,000 earlier this year, brings so much to the table. Can score outside, can score inside, off the bounce, and defends the living daylights out of people, he is just a complete kid," said Madson.
Hayes, Oyet and Ochan have a great understanding of what it takes to win, always putting the team first.
"If they know somebody has a hot hand, if somebody has a good match–up, they look for them. They're very unselfish, none of the three are stat–sheet looker guys, they want to see how many points. That's just something that isn't important to them," said Madson.
Their leadership and experience are why Hayes, Ochan, and Oyet are this week's KEYC Scheels All Sports Boys Prep Athletes of the Week.