MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Not only did Kaden Metheny have the obvious ball skills and ability to shoot when he was lighting up the middle school ranks at Mountaineer Middle, but University coach Joe Schmidle saw something right away that impressed him more than anything.
“I knew how skilled he was for his age when he was in middle school, but his quickness and basketball IQ set him apart from any kid I’ve seen play at that age,” Schmidle said of Metheny. “A lot of players have the ability to score, but Kaden could do it from anywhere on the floor, whether it was from 30 feet or finishing at the rim.”
Four years later, Metheny helped bring UHS its first state championship, which to him is the most important thing, but he shattered school records along the way.
This season, as a senior, Metheny became the Hawks’ all-time leading scorer, broke the school’s 3-point mark and surpassed 2,000-career points to help UHS (22-3) claim the top seed in Class AAA for the state tournament. For this, he is the 2020 Bill Evans Award winner, announced Sunday by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Metheny is the first Morgantown-area player to win the award, given to the best boys’ basketball player in the state each year since 1970.
Prior to this season, Metheny had already cemented his legacy as one of the best players in UHS history after helping the Hawks capture the 2019 title. However, motivation was far from lacking heading into his senior season, and he followed up a stellar junior year by averaging 25.6 points, 4.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Metheny shot 63.9% from inside the arc and 38.4% from 3, and also had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.07.
But, like he’s been his entire career, Metheny knew it was never about him. The Bowling Green signee knew he couldn’t let his teammates down, and that was his final motivation.
“We knew that feeling of winning a state championship and it’s the greatest feeling that I can’t even put into words,” Metheny said. “It was a feeling that I wanted to feel again. It was a moment I wanted to relive with my teammates — my brothers and my coaches. With that feeling, it makes you just as determined to repeat. As a senior, knowing this was my last go-around with these guys, you want to finish on top and you want nothing less.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has put the state tournament on hold, so Metheny and the Hawks haven’t had the chance to repeat.
Regardless, Metheny, who was the Class AAA first team all-state captain, proved his worth.
While his offense is at the forefront, Metheny believes his defense — which Schmidle believes is the most impressive part of his game — has been overshadowed his entire career. As a freshman, he didn’t need to be the scorer he is today, so he had to earn playing time in other ways.
To put it into perspective, Metheny is UHS’s all-time 3-point scorer with 262. He has 307 steals in his career.
“That’s the first thing I want myself to be good at is my defense,” he said. “My teammates relied on me to guard the opposing team’s best guards, so I pride myself to shut them down.”
Countless hours on the court, beginning with playing with his older brother, Nathan, and then work put in with his father, Gregg, has helped put Metheny in the position he’s in as the best player in West Virginia.
“He never took plays off,” Schmidle said. “He worked so hard to improve his craft over the years, and once he started to gain strength physically, he became more durable and it allowed him to finish better in traffic toward the latter part of the year. He hated to lose more than anyone I’ve ever seen, whether it was a game or just a drill in practice (Metheny has a 95-12 career record). People ask me all the time how he got so good. “I tell them, ‘God gave him ‘IT,’ and all coaches know what that means. But when you have that ability and saw how hard that kid has worked his entire life to get where he is, then they would understand.
“It’s not every day an athlete with that kind of ability has that kind of discipline and work ethic. He has always been a team-first player and has an amazing ability to make everyone around him better.”
Chapmanville’s Obinna Anochili-Killen finished second in the voting, followed by his Region 4 rival, Logan’s David Early.
Sean Manning is a sports reporter for The Dominion Post and provided this story on behalf of the WVSWA.