Adrian Kuchtaruk may not yet have the confidence on the court of Kobe Bryant, his favourite player - but he’s getting there. The talented Grade 8 student at MacLeod Public School capped off a season of tournament championships, helping to lead the Mustangs to a Rainbow Board crown earlier this year.
“I started off with soccer, that was my big sport,” Kuchtaruk confided in a recent interview. “Then in Grade 4, I moved more to basketball.”
And there has been no looking back. The eldest of two boys in the family, Kuchtaruk was first introduced to the hard-court via the Sudbury Youth Basketball League (SYBL), and it took no time at all before he started developing a passion for the sport.
“I just liked how anything could happen at the end of the game,” he said. By the time he reached Grade 6, a familiar foe would quickly team with Kuchtaruk to become a formidable 1-2 punch.
“I was always challenged by Myles Keaney – me and him fought to be the best, and we still do,” explained Kuchtaruk of the friendly rivalry between the MacLeod teammates and SYBL adversaries.
“He (Keaney) will shoot more than me, I’ll drive in more – I think that’s the biggest difference between us.” In fact, truth be told, weaving his way deftly through the lane, finding that narrow path to the basket, has been a trademark of Kuchtaruk’s game for much of his young career.
“I think driving is the best part of my game, because that’s what I’ve done my whole life and that’s where I score most of the time,” Kuchtaruk said. However, like most top-end athletes, opponents will take note of these tendencies.
That was certainly the case with Algonquin Public School, the team that would take to the court opposite MacLeod in the Rainbow final. “We had played them four times this year, so they knew me pretty well,” noted Kuchtaruk.
“I couldn’t drive very much, so I had to pull up for jump shots.” It is his comfort with taking the open shot that the 14 year old sharp-shooter feels needs the most work as he prepares to take his game to the next level, attending Lockerby Composite in the fall.
In addition to playing both with his school team and SYBL, Kuchtaruk has gained additional exposure with the Sudbury Jam, competing across the province with the local club basketball crew.
“I play two different kinds of positions,” said Kuchtaruk. “For competitive, I’m more of a big guy, playing power forward or post. But for school and SYBL, I play more point guard.”
The combination has provided some memorable moments, including nailing a three-point shot that travelled three quarters of the distance of the court as the quarter buzzer sounded at a club tournament this past winter.
Looking someday to become a doctor, Kuchtaruk is hopeful to learn the calm demeanor that would serve him well both in his future profession, as well as in key moments on the court.
“I still get really nervous, that’s something I want to overcome, to play better in the end of the game situations,” he said. “But I guess I’ve always liked to try and hit the big shot.”
Sounds like the confidence is coming along just nicely, thank you very much.