Kentlake’s Budinich chooses Montana State


  • BY Wire Service
  • Wednesday, November 26, 2008 1:00am
  • Sports
Kentlake’s Jeff Budinich recently made it official

Kentlake’s Jeff Budinich recently made it official

Everything is starting to come together for Kentlake big man Jeff Budinich.

Budinich, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound center for the basketball team, recently signed a letter of intent to play next year on scholarship at Montana State University in Bozeman.

A year ago, being able to take his game to the college level was more of an afterthought in Budinich’s mind.

“I was uncoordinated last year,” admits Budinich, who grew two inches and added 35 pounds since last season. “Now, I am quicker. I have more hand-eye coordination. I caught up to my body. My strength has, too.”

Which is a good thing for the Falcons and a not-so-good thing for Budinich’s South Puget Sound League North Division foes.

But the additional weight has not taken away from Budinich’s ability to get up and down the court.

“I’m a guy who floats around,” he said. “I don’t think (other centers) can keep up with me.”

Budinich, 17, chose Montana State over Portland State and Eastern Washington University among others. Having made the decision several weeks before practices began is a relief, Budanich conceded.

“Last year, I had a few college coaches come to my games ... and I felt a lot of pressure,” he said. “That pressure’s not going to be there this year.

Budinich averaged 6.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last year, helping the Falcons earn the South Puget Sound League North Division’s fifth-and-final playoff berth. Kentlake was eliminated in two games at the district tournament, but not before Budinich delivered a season-high 20 points in an 87-75 loss to Kentridge.

Shumaker to LC State

Budinich isn’t the only local athlete to have recently signed on the dotted line.

Kentwood’s Stephanie Shumaker, a 5-foot-2 setter on the volleyball team, has signed a letter of intent to play next fall at Lewis-Clark State College.

Shumaker, a two-year starter for the Conquerors, led Kentwood to a third-place state finish last year. She helped Kentwood, which played in the state tournament this past weekend, win its fourth straight South Puget Sound League North Division title this fall.

Though a first-team all-league setter this season, LC State is considering shifting Shumaker to libero.

“It always helps to have someone with good hands playing in the back row, and good setters have those hands,” Warrior assistant coach Burdette Greeny said.

“Stephanie plays in arguably the region’s best club system in Kent Juniors and her Kentwood High School program has been a state contender for years now. That is significant to us in that she has consistently had quality coaching and is used to winning.”

Off to Arkansas

She didn’t swim for a high school team.

But that didn’t slow Tahoma High senior Dannica Brennan one bit.

Brennan, who competes with the King Aquatic Club in Federal Way, recently signed a letter of intent to swim at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville next fall.

“I’m really excited,” Brennan said. “I definitely chose this school because ... the team trains a lot like I do now. When I walked into practice (at Arkansas), that’s kind of when I decided I really liked it there.”

This past summer, Brennan competed in the Olympic trials and just missed the cut in the 200 IM and 50 free. She chose Arkansas over Virginia Tech and Texas A & M among others.

Brennan is a native of Great Falls, Montana. With her family still in Montana, Brennan moved to Maple Valley in March of her sophomore year simply to compete with the King Aquatic Club.

“I miss all of my friends and stuff, but I like being out here because training is so much better,” said Brennan, who hopes to qualify for the summer Olympics in four years.

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