In our continuing effort to highlight our senior student-athletes, we are presenting our “Senior Showcase” feature. Whether a senior intends on continuing their athletic career at the next level or not, we are wanting to highlight the accomplishments of this year’s senior class. Click here to submit your nomination for “Senior Showcase”.
UDALL — During his senior campaign on the court, Brayden Sadler not only became the all-time leading scorer in Udall High School basketball history but was also one of the most dominant scorers throughout the state of Kansas.
The 6-1 guard averaged a staggering 26.7 points per game in leading the Eagles to an impressive 19-4 record, which included a share of the South Central Border League regular-season championship with Cedar Vale/Dexter. Udall won the Class 1A Burden Regional Tournament before falling to Hutchinson Central Christian in the semifinals of the Emporia Sub-State Tournament.
“My expectations and goals this year were to come in every day ready to work hard and get better,” said Sadler, the captain on the team who also averaged 2.7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. “At the beginning of the season, I made a goal that our team has to win at least 15 games and to make an appearance at state. Every day, we came and worked hard and, at the end of the season, we achieved our goal by getting 19 wins, but fell short in sub-state to end our season.”
Sadler will go down as one of the top scorers ever in the history of the SCBL. He became Udall’s all-time leading scorer with 1,747 points — surpassing the previous high of 1,666 points by Michael Propst from 2009-13. He was a four-year player for the Eagles, earning All-SCBL First Team as a junior and senior. Prior to that, Sadler was Second Team All-League as a sophomore. He also earned state recognition, including All-Class 1A First Team by Sports in Kansas and VYPE, as well as Second Team by The Wichita Eagle.
“It meant a lot to me (to reach 1,000 points), but my goal was to achieve the most points scored in school history,” Sadler said. “So I knew there was more work to be done. I just used that energy and put it into what I wanted to achieve. My favorite memories from this season were defeating Attica and Caldwell in our regular season. My three previous seasons, I lost to those teams every time we played them, but we finally got a W my last go around. That stands out for me.”
In addition to his high school team, Sadler has been active during the offseason by competing AAU and MAYB summer ball for River City Hoops-Perry Ellis Elite. He also attended the NAIA Showcase last March and the University of Kansas Team Camp with his summer team.
“Over time, the camps helped me by giving me a lot of exposure from people all around the nation,” Sadler said. “Playing against players that are from different states than you is something cool to say in my opinion. You get to experience how big the sport of basketball is and how many people play it all around the world.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement from my freshman year. Being a point guard, you have to be able to take care of the rock, call the plays, run the floor and be a leader. I’ve improved in every aspect with the help of growing and being in the gym. Offseason work would be going to the gym to get some shots up, ball handling, defensive drills, working out, eating healthy and anything that can give you the upper-hand advantage.”
Although basketball has been his primary focus over the past four years, Sadler has also participated in football, baseball and track. In fact, he was planning on competing for the Eagle track and field team for a second straight year after qualifying for state a year ago in the 200-meter dash and 4 x 400 relay. Unfortunately, the spring season was cancelled by the Kansas State High School Activities Association due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“What I was wanting to accomplish most was to beat the school record for the 400-meter dash that was set by a former teammate of mine and to make it back to state,” Sadler said. “I did track to help stay in shape for basketball, but I love competing in running events for track as well. I was shocked to find out that sports were being cancelled. Even though my season was over at the time, I felt bad for the athletes competing in the state (basketball) tournament because all their hard work turned out into unfinished business. On top of that, just getting to that point in the state tournament and it being cancelled is heartbreaking.”
Not only has the pandemic affected sports, but it also forced the cancellation of all in-person classes at high school buildings.
“It’s affected my senior year by not letting me be able to finish school or track for the last time in my life,” said Sadler, who has also been active in FBLA, Student Council and National Honor Society at UHS. “It was tough in the beginning knowing that I wouldn’t be able to finish out the year with my classmates and not being at school. But I guess everything happens for a reason. It was really surprising when the governor announced school and sports were canceled for the remainder of the year. Right now, I’m finishing up my online classes for Comp II, Computer Apps and Government class.”
Sadler is still waiting on official word about graduation at Udall but is starting to look ahead to his future. Although he has not officially signed a national letter-of-intent, he is planning on attending Ottawa University to further his education and athletic career in basketball. In addition to Ottawa, he also visited McPherson College and Labette Community College.
“It was a pretty smooth process for me,” said Sadler, who will be completing a degree in business marketing or sports studies. “I had gone to a few schools for visits and interests, but from the jump, I had the idea that Ottawa would be the school I’d attend. Having to choose which school is best for your future can be stressful, but it was definitely a good experience to go through.
“My high school experience has been about growth. I remember going into my school my first day of freshman year not knowing how it would go. Now that high school’s over, I can say I learned a lot about myself, others and school obviously … but it helped shape me who I’ve become today.”
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT BRAYDEN SADLER …
EASTERN KANSAS SPORTS: What are some of your interests and hobbies away from school?
SADLER: “Outside of school, I like to spend time with my family and friends, as well as going to the gym and working on my family’s farm.”
EASTERN KANSAS SPORTS: Who is your favorite athlete? Favorite sports team? Favorite music group/singer?
SADLER: “My favorite athlete is LeBron James. He’s the person who inspired me when I was young to start playing the game of basketball. For a sports team, I’d definitely go with the Dallas Cowboys, America’s team. My favorite artist would have to be J. Cole.”
EASTERN KANSAS SPORTS: Who are the people that you look up to as far as role models?
SADLER: “I look up to my grandfather. He shows me day-in and day-out that you have to work hard for what you want to achieve.”
EASTERN KANSAS SPORTS: What is a fun fact about you that people may or may not know?
SADLER: “A fun fact about me that people may not know is that I’m a good cowhand.”