Loaded Nixa boys focused on Columbia, start year ranked No. 1

Springfield, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com)  -- The Nixa Eagles have enjoyed one of the most successful runs in its rich tradition under 21st year head coach Jay Osborne. Nixa returns a wealth of talent from last year’s Class 5 state runner-up team and are the top team in the preseason Class 5 state polls. If the Eagles season doesn’t end in Columbia it will be a disappointment.
Head Coach – Jay Osborne, 21st season (384-169)

2011 Record- 30-2

Returnering Starters: 3 (Jalen Norman, 6’5”, senior; Austin Ruder, 6’2”, senior; Chan Hocklander, 6’, senior)
Returning Lettermen: 3 (Jacob Ruder, 6’5”, sophomore; Wes Middleton, 6’4”, junior; Bryce Dulin, 6’4”, junior;

Players to Watch – Carney Wilmes, 6’, senior; Athan Lummis, 5’11”, senior.

2012 Outlook

Despite losing two great seniors in Kameron Bundy (Drury) and Jordan Epps (C of O), the expectations are still extremely high in Nixa thanks to a pair of names you’ve heard before. Austin Ruder and Jalen Norman have been key cogs to Nixa winning 78 games over the past three seasons. Ruder, a Missouri State signee, averaged 18.2 points per game last year and also fired in a school record 81 trays. Norman, who remains undecided on where he will play, but has a bevy of D-1 schools interested in his services. Last year the 6’5” forward averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game, he holds the season and career marks in both blocks and rebounds. However, if the Eagles wish to cut down the nets at Mizzou Arena, it won’t be about Ruder or Norman, it will be the supporting cast. Last year Bundy and Epps enabled Nixa to be very creative offensively and freed up Ruder to play off the ball. This year, Nixa will rely on Ruder to play the point more than in years past. Also, in last year’s state championship game McCluer North’s Jordan Granger dominated the interior of the Eagles to the tune of 26 points and 16 rebounds. Nixa has got to find consistent size and depth inside to help out Norman. Jacob Ruder, Austin’s little (bigger) brother could be the answer there. The 6’5” forward is young, but has a great skillset. Like years past, the preconference slate is a juggernaut for Coach Osborne, the only quality team the Eagles won’t play this year is Duke. DeSmet Jesuit, Blue Valley Northwest and Little Rock-McClellan, all with marquee D-1 talent of their own, will size up Nixa this season, in addition to an always tough COC slate.

Odds and Ends: Nixa will have a new all-time leading scorer after this season; however that remains to be determined. Norman (1,208) has the inside track over Ruder (1,172). Nixa will also join Hillcrest in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in January.

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