COLUMBIA — It was the fourth quarter when a smile slipped across Melvin Watkins’ face.
Guard Ricky Kreklow had just stepped beyond NBA 3-point range to swish another deep shot.
“He’s a force,” Watkins, the associate head coach of the Missouri men’s basketball team, said. “He can shoot the basketball.”
Watkins was at the MFA Oil Shootout on Sunday at Mizzou Arena to see his son Manuale Watkins, a ninth-grader on the Rock Bridge boys basketball team, but he was also there to see Kreklow, a future Missouri Tiger.
“We’ve just enjoyed watching him play, because he can do a lot of good things,” Watkins said of Kreklow. “Some people originally thought he was just a catch and shoot type of player but he’s more than that. Give him a little time and we’re going to see the kid has a chance to be a special player.”
Kreklow is definitely comfortable playing at Mizzou Arena. His 17 points for Rock Bridge in its 69-49 victory against Kirkwood showed he is familiar with the court.
“It’s nice having the opportunity, with my parents working here, to be able to just come in here and shoot with my dad and work on my game,” Kreklow said.
Ricky Kreklow’s parents are Wayne Kreklow, Missouri's head women's volleyball coach, and Susan Kreklow, Missouri's director of volleyball operations.
And shooting with Wayne Kreklow isn’t the average father-son practice session. Wayne Kreklow was not only an All-American at Drake University, but also played for the Boston Celtics’ 1980-81 championship team.
“Before (Mizzou Arena) it was Hearnes,” Ricky Kreklow said. “When I was little, I would go up there and shoot instead of waiting around in an office.”
What may have been most fitting Sunday was Kreklow scoring his 1,000th career point for the Bruins at Mizzou Arena.
“It’s a little ironic,” Kreklow said. “It’s just kind of a neat opportunity to do that here.”
Bruins coach Jim Scanlon said he knows the significance of Kreklow’s achievement. Scoring 1,000 points is a difficult achievement, and not only does Rock Bridge play strong teams often, but those teams also put an extra emphasis on scouting Kreklow, Scanlon said.
“He’s had a good high school career, and he’ll do fine in college,” Scanlon said. “So I’m happy for him. We’ll move on and get a few more points.”
Rock Bridge (15-5) plays next Tuesday at Jefferson City (5-11).