Jack Plumb started the first game of his high school career Saturday when he was in the lineup for Bay Port’s game at Appleton West.
But the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward already is arguably the most coveted Pirates player in program history, on track to become what is believed to be their first Division I recruit.
Plumb has always been easy to spot on the court thanks to his trademark rec specs he’s been wearing since second grade, which will break every so often when he gets an elbow in the face. The pair he was wearing during practice on Friday have broken five times, but his father always superglues them back to life.
He also is gaining attention off the court, where he already has received offers from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee. He visited Wisconsin twice this summer, took an unofficial visit to Marquette and has a trip to Drake planned for January.
Plumb hopes to make a decision before his senior season, but he also won’t commit to any self-imposed deadline.
His stock has surged thanks to his performances with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors during the AAU season. He now is being asked to help lead the Pirates, who have hopes of winning the Fox River Classic Conference.
“I have been taking it all in stride,” Plumb said of the scholarship offers and attention. “I was really surprised when they first came in (being) so young, but then I knew I had worked really hard. I just have to keep working to hopefully get some more in the future.”
It’s that work ethic and effort level on the court that perhaps is one of Plumb’s biggest strengths. That, and he still has a chance to grow a few more inches and add more muscle.
Bay Port coach Nate Rykal knew even before Plumb arrived in high school that he had a potentially special player on his hands. He likes that Plumb is a great listener and always attempts to do the right things on the court. He also saw some growing leadership from him during Bay Port’s 65-56 loss to Appleton West.
“He’s going to be a great player for us,” Rykal said. “He’s a little bit wet behind the ears as they say still with things, but he learned a ton last year being on the varsity as a freshman.
“That’s not an easy thing to do. You’re a freshman with the varsity. You are coming in and are kind of maybe a little bit timid. I think he’s a lot more comfortable now.”
One of the biggest things Plumb needs to work on? Being meaner.
Everyone points out how nice of a person he is, and while he competes well, Rykal said he would like to see his pupil be more aggressive about trying to score and making things happen.
Plumb smiled when he heard that critique.
“If the other kids start talking trash a little bit, I’ll get mean,” Plumb said, laughing. “It’s kind of hard for me to get mean just by myself. I need somebody to aggravate me.”
Plumb is just one piece on what looks to be a good Pirates team. They return two starters in 6-2 junior Brett Frieder and 6-6 senior Dante DeCleene and should be one of the more athletic squads in the 10-team FRCC.
But winning conference won’t be easy. Even with some of the graduation losses by De Pere — including Wisconsin recruit Brevin Pritzl — the Redbirds have won at least a share of six straight league championships.
“It’s been that scratching at the door kind of thing and getting beat by them last year,” said Rykal, who also knows Sheboygan North will have a say in the league race. “We hope we can make that step up again and take over the top spot. Certainly that is our goal.”
Fox River Classic Conference
Coach: John Miron, third year.
2014-15 record: 17-6.
Key players: Zak Imig (sr, 6-2), Turner Wittig (sr, 5-11), Ben Wittig (jr., 6-1), Peyton Ellis (jr., 5-11), David Clark (jr., 6-2), Tyler Cox (sr., 6-0) Will Ark (sr., 6-1), Anthony Guarascio (so., 6-2) Austin Phillips (sr., 5-11), Bryant Phillips (so., 6-0), Ben Raschtan (jr., 5-9), Kurt Vanderheyden (jr., 5-10), Nick Seilor (sr., 5-11), Josiah Santana (sr., 5-10).
Notable: The Jaguars will have a difficult time replacing former standout Kyle Monroe, who was a two-time player of the year. But they do have two starters back in Turner Wittig and Imig. Wittig shot 40.9 percent on 3-pointers and 85.2 percent from the line in league play last season. A lack of height is a concern for Ashwaubenon, but Miron likes the work ethic of his team and that they are willing to be coached. Miron has gone 37-10 at Ashwaubenon entering the season.
Coach: Nate Rykal, 11th year.
2014-15 record: 17-7.
Key players: Dante DeCleene (sr., 6-6), Brett Frieder (jr., 6-2), Jack Plumb (so., 6-8), Grant Geissler (sr., 6-4), James Hanson (sr., 6-3), Logan White (sr., 6-2), Connor Krah (sr., 5-11).
Notable: The Pirates have two returning starters in DeCleene and Frieder, who combined to average 18.5 points per game last season. Rykal expects an athletic Pirates team to be strong in the shooting department as well as on defense. Rebounding and depth inside could be concerns for a team expected to compete for the conference title.
Coach: Brian Winchester, ninth year.
2014-15 record: 21-4.
Key players: Zach Rabas (sr., 6-5), Aaron Vopal (jr., 6-7), Max Huddleston (jr., 6-6), Jordan Barthels (sr., 6-2), Jordan Joseph (jr., 6-5), Isaac Hoffman (jr., 6-0).
Notable: The Redbirds return three starters and six players who played varsity minutes last season. Winchester is counting on Barthels and Rabas to provide the leadership and to shoulder some of the scoring load. Both have played on varsity since sophomore year. Vopal and Huddleston also are entering their third varsity season and both are considered athletic and physical at the forward positon.
Coach: Dave Shaw, seventh year.
2014-15 record: 13-11.
Key players: Luke VandenHeuvel (jr.), Jacob DeStarkey (jr.), Bennett Karcz (sr.), Marcus Malewski (jr.), Jason Folk (sr.), Wade Greenen (jr.),
Notable: VandenHeuvel was an honorable mention selection in the FRCC as a sophomore. He shot 52.6 percent in league play.
Green Bay Notre Dame
Coach: John Taylor, first year.
2014-15 record: 8-15.
Key players: Matt Leigel (jr., 6-1), Max Roistein (sr., 6-3), Reese Johnson (so., 6-0), Matt Rader (so., 6-6), Avery Lyons (sr., 6-0).
Notable: Taylor takes over for Tom Van Deurzen, who stepped down after three seasons to take a job out of the area. The Tritons will be a young team at all positions and one that will have five new starters. Taylor feels the amount of success Notre Dame has this season will be based on how quickly it can adapt to a new culture and system.
Green Bay Preble
Coach: Jim Wall, third year.
2014-15 record: 8-15.
Key players: Connor Curtis (sr., 6-7), Connor Lemmens (sr., 6-4), Ryan Buss (jr., 6-5), Griffin Summers (jr., 5-9), Camden Wall (so., 5-6).
Notable: Curtis was a first-team all-conference pick last season while Lemmens was a second-team selection. The two were named to the all tournament team at the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Exposure Camp in September. Buss, Summers and Wall all received varsity playing time last season. The junior tandem of Jordan Nass and Cody Dietz both are expected to contribute.
Green Bay Southwest
Coach: John Polkowski, third year.
2014-15 record: 4-20.
Key players: Ty Froistad (sr., 5-10), Kaleb Keener (so., 6-0), Lucas Steffes (jr., 5-10), Clayton Ladsten (sr., 6-4), Lucas Stieber (fr., 5-9), Tyler Ichella (sr., 6-1), Will Pytleski (fr., 6-2), Zach Zoll (sr., 6-6), Cole Bouche (so., 6-2).
Notable: Froistad was a second-team all-conference selection as a junior. He led the FRCC with 44 3-pointers and shot 48.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Trojans have to replace two of their top three scorers with the graduation of Sam Humphrey and Kelvin Jones.
Coach: Brian Gallagher, sixth year.
2014-15 record: 12-12.
Key players: TJ Schneider (jr., 6-7), Andy Cavanaugh (sr., 5-10), David LaTour (sr., 6-1).
Notable: Schneider should be one of the top players in the conference again after being a first-team all-conference pick as a sophomore. He was fourth in the league with 240 points.
Coach: Tom Desotell, 39th year.
2014-15 record: 17-7.
Key players: Davis Larson (sr., 6-4), Zach Hasentein (jr., 6-3), Sam Kaminski (6-8, sr.).
Notable: Desotell is 622-238 with the Golden Raiders and has won more Division 1 games than any coach in state history. Larson is one of the best returning players in the league and was a first-team all-conference pick each of the last two seasons. He averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a junior.
Coach: Michael Rank, third year.
2014-15 record: 9-14.
Key players: Tyler Guenther (sr., 6-0), AJ Gutierrez (sr., 6-1), Mike Rank Jr. (jr., 6-11), Logan Hamilton (jr., 6-5), Jared Govek (jr., 6-1), Jared Splittgerber (jr., 6-0), Zachary Kaffine (jr., 6-3), Evan Opgenorth (jr., 6-3).
Notable: The duo of Guenther and Gutierrez should provide the Redwings with a solid 1-2 punch, and the young players coming up should provide some extra talent. The junior varsity team went 18-4 with those players last season. Some of the key players off the bench are dealing with injuries. Rank Jr., the team’s top 3-point shooter, was injured in football. Opgenorth was injured in soccer.