Schrempf at the top of the key ... touch pass to Sikma for the easy layup! No, it's not a Sonics dream-team highlight. It happened last month...
Schrempf at the top of the key … touch pass to Sikma for the easy layup!
No, it’s not a Sonics dream-team highlight. It happened last month at a high-school basketball tournament in Bothell.
Luke Sikma is a 6-foot-7 senior center and Alex Schrempf is a 6-4 sophomore wing at Bellevue High School.
They are teenage sons of Sonics greats Jack Sikma, the blond-locked anchor of the 1979 NBA title team, and Detlef Schrempf, the team’s steady scoring threat in the mid-1990s.
Luke and Alex say they are proud of their fathers’ basketball legacies, but are eager to embrace their own identities as contributors on a Bellevue team that has started 6-0.
The 17-year-old Sikma, who will play next year at the University of Portland, is Bellevue’s leading scorer, averaging 13.5 points. The 16-year-old Schrempf is an aggressive, athletic slasher averaging 9.5 points.
The Wolverines’ hot start includes a buzzer-beating win last month in the title game of the Oh Boy! Oberto Christmas Classic against South Kitsap, then ranked No. 8 in Class 4A. Sikma was the tournament MVP.
“[My dad] knows what his name carries around here [in Seattle],” Luke Sikma said. “He always lets me know to be my own player. When I was younger, it was a bigger deal than what it is now. I’ve gotten used to it.
“He’s always been a father first. That’s the most important thing. I love him as a father.”
Bellevue coach Chris O’Connor said having two boys with famous last names doesn’t change the dynamic of his squad.
“They’ve learned from their dads how important it is to be a great teammate,” O’Connor said. “They’re very good team players. You’d never know that they were the sons of NBA players.”
Not that he minds. O’Connor, in his first year at Bellevue, says he regularly bounces basketball ideas off Jack Sikma and Detlef Schrempf, both assistant coaches with the Sonics.
Luke and Alex attended plenty of Sonics functions and games as kids. It wasn’t until middle school, though, that they started to realize what their fathers had actually done.
“A couple years ago, it hit me: He was a major player in the league,” Alex said of his father, a three-time NBA All-Star who played against Michael Jordan in the 1996 NBA Finals. “Hearing about what he’d done, reading about it, it was amazing.”
Alex, the older of two boys, has been playing basketball since he was about 5. O’Connor says Schrempf has an explosive first step and “natural ability that’s hard to teach.”
“The biggest key to him is getting him to read defenses and getting him to make the right decision,” O’Connor said. “He has the opportunity to be a special player as long as he makes the effort to want to get better every day.”
Luke Sikma, the middle of three boys, also started basketball early, but tried other sports along the way, including water polo, football, baseball and soccer. He’s interested in pursuing a career in sports management or coaching.
O’Connor praises Sikma’s understanding and feel for the game, and his ability to do many things well — rebounding, blocking shots and passing effectively. In one game at the Christmas tournament, Sikma also had four steals.
“We’re trying to get him to play with more aggression and conviction on a more consistent basis,” O’Connor says. “I think he’s such a team guy, he’s a little bit passive at times.”
Luke and Alex say the bigger pressure comes not from living up to their last names, but from wanting to help Bellevue win the KingCo 3A title and go deep into the postseason.
The team seems primed. O’Connor likes his players’ length and athleticism. He says the Wolverines can grind it out and run. Despite missing top returning scorer John McGough, who is out until mid-January with a football injury, they’ve found ways to win close games.
Jack Sikma took in a recent Bellevue game from the bleachers. His height and presence are hard to miss. He said his son’s best strength is an innate ability to see the court. The thing he’ll need to work on in college is developing low-post moves.
Jack Sikma said he’s proud of his son’s maturation and his ability to deal with expectations.
“He had to get comfortable with some things, but I don’t think he’d say it was negative,” Jack Sikma said. “If there were some challenges, he’s handled them in a very positive way.”
Michael Ko: 206-515-5653 or firstname.lastname@example.org