For much of her youth, Kennedie Shuler's No. 1 sport was soccer.
But when she suffered a season-ending injury as a sophomore at Barlow, she made a dramatic pivot.
“I decided that I wanted to play basketball at the next level,” Shuler said. “That's when my commitment to the game really turned around.”
As it's turned out, focusing on basketball has paid off in a big way for Shuler. After a breakout junior basketball season, in which she led the Bruins to their first state final, she has landed a full-ride scholarship to Oregon State.
The 5-foot-10 point guard also received Division I offers from Portland, Cal Poly, Sacramento State, Hawaii, Saint Mary's and Seattle University. But she committed to the Beavers on June 19, less than two weeks after getting an offer from them on her birthday, June 6.
“I had a lot of interest from a bunch of schools, but I committed pretty early before my AAU summer started,” Shuler said. “I probably would've had more. But when I got offered from OSU, I just knew that's where I needed to be. I instantly fell in love with the school and the coaching staff. I knew that place would be the best for me.
“I've been working for this for a long time. I really wanted to play at the highest level I could, so I'm really excited about it.”
Barlow coach Nick Hudson said Shuler has a “relentless” work ethic.
“She's put in a whole lot of work on her game,” Hudson said. “She's one of the most competitive players that I've been around. She's driven, and I think she'll step up her game and do what she needs to do to contribute. We're just so happy for her and proud of her. I know that was the top choice she was hoping to get.”
In soccer, Shuler was a Mt. Hood Conference first-team forward as a freshman. During her COVID-shortened sophomore season, though, she suffered partially torn ligaments in her ankle and underwent tightrope surgery. She missed all but the last three games of her sophomore basketball season.
After forgoing her junior year of soccer, Shuler was sensational in basketball last season, averaging 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.7 steals. She was a 6A second-team selection and was named the MHC's co-defensive player of the year for the Bruins (25-4).
Shuler said she has raised her game in the offseason playing with her Northwest Select AAU team, coached by Angie Sun.
“I wasn't at my best until this summer,” Shuler said. “I feel like I finally found my stride. I definitely feel like my game really started to improve once junior year was over and I was on the club. We have a really talented group, and we play super well together. I'm just letting the game come to me, and do what I'm good at.
“Playing for Angie and a really good team really helped me get to where I am today.”
Now that she looks back on it, Shuler believes the injury was a blessing in disguise.
“I think it set me forward a little bit,” she said. “You learn a lot from getting hurt. I came back stronger. Maybe part of my game was rusty last season, like my ballhandling and shooting, but mentally and physically I think I came back stronger. And then the skillful stuff just comes back naturally.”
Shuler said she is thinking about returning to play soccer this season, but hasn't decided. She believes her soccer training was critical to her development as an athlete.
“If I didn't play soccer, I definitely wouldn't be the basketball player I am today,” she said.
Shuler joins an Oregon State recruiting class that includes South Medford guard Donovyn Hunter.
“We've actually become pretty good friends over social media,” Shuler said. “We played against each other a couple times this summer. I think we get along super well. I really enjoy getting to know her.”
Hudson said that Barlow senior guard Annie Koenig also is receiving Division I college interest. Last season, Koenig averaged 15.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.9 steals.
“I think she could be a serious steal for whoever ends up getting her,” Hudson said. “I think she's, if not the best, one of the best shooters in the state.”
Mogel to Pilots
Clackamas senior Rhyan Mogel has committed to the University of Portland.
The 5-foot-10 guard was voted the MHC player of the year as a sophomore but suffered a torn ACL and missed most of her junior season, returning for the playoffs. Cavaliers coach Korey Landolt said that Mogel has fully recovered and had “an amazing AAU spring” with the Northwest Selects.
“Her range is looking great,” Landolt said. “She's explosive to the basket. She's back to where she was as a sophomore, and better, because she's now older. She's so strong.”
Mogel averaged 17.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 4.4 steals and shot 42.5 percent from three-point range as a sophomore.
The working relationship between her club coach, Angie Sun, and Portland coach Michael Meek helped facilitate Mogel's recruitment to the Pilots.
“Michael Meek is turning that program into something to be reckoned with," Landolt said. "I'm excited for her to be coached by him. He's such a good teacher and she is just a sponge. She's almost like having another coach on my staff.”
The Cavaliers, who went 27-3 and reached the 6A semifinals in 2021-22, will be among the state favorites this season. But they suffered a setback last month when guard Dylan Mogel, Rhyan's sister and a first-team MHC selection as a freshman last season, tore her ACL. She had surgery last week and is out for at least six months.
“I have high hopes that Dylan's going to come back from this as strong as Rhyan has come back,” Landolt said. “Dylan and Rhyan are cut from the same cloth.”
Gervais tabs Sandoval
Gervais has hired former Woodburn boys coach Enrique Sandoval to replace Kyle Buse, who has taken the job at 4A North Marion.
Sandoval coached Woodburn for three seasons (2013-16), compiling a 21-49 record. He played for a Woodburn team that finished as 3A runner-up in 1995.
Sandoval will have big shoes to fill in Buse, who went 110-61 in seven seasons with the 2A Cougars.
"I talked to my wife about it and my kids and they thought it was something that I should do," Sandoval told Pamplin Media Group. "I've never coached girls before. So I just thought … a change would be good for me. (I'd) heard some good things about Gervais and how successful their program has been and so I said, OK, well why not try to continue that tradition."
Gervais went 58-11 in the last three seasons. The Cougars reached the state quarterfinals in 2020 and 2022 – winning a school-record 23 games in each season – and finished 12-0 and won the 2A culminating week tournament in 2021.
Four starters are eligible to return from last season.