For Rock Bridge boys basketball player Ryan Kreklow, success runs in the family

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 | 9:23 p.m. CST
Rock Bridge guard Ryan Kreklow dribbles during the game against Gateway High School Feb. 19.

COLUMBIA — Ryan Kreklow is reminded of his older brother’s successes on a daily basis.

Outside Rock Bridge High School's gymnasium sit multiple trophy cases. In the case commemorating the Bruins’ best boys basketball teams are keepsakes of Ricky Kreklow’s senior season in 2009-10.

Ricky Kreklow, a two-time All-State player, averaged 16.8 points per game and led Rock Bridge to the state semifinals his senior season when he was named Mr. Show-Me Basketball.

Ryan Kreklow remembers watching as his brother’s high school career ended, after the Bruins blew a fourth-quarter lead in the Final Four, a game in which Ricky Kreklow was hampered by a stress fracture in his ankle that flared up three days earlier.

The high school success of his older brother, a sharp-shooting guard who spent one season under Mike Anderson with Mizzou before transferring to Cal, made the last name Kreklow synonymous with on-court success at Rock Bridge.

Now a sophomore in his first season on the Bruins' varsity roster, Ryan Kreklow is motivated by his older brother’s accomplishments. Coming off the bench as the Bruins’ sixth-man, Ryan Kreklow also feels a standard to live up to.

“I don’t see him having a problem getting out of my shadow, however small that may have been,” Ricky Kreklow said by phone. “I understand the last name will always be there, but he’s still Ryan and he’s going to do his own thing and he’s going to do it well.”

Ryan Kreklow has begun to make a name for himself: Creighton, Missouri State, Nebraska and Tulsa are all recruiting the energetic guard.

In addition to an older brother playing at Cal, his grandfather played college basketball at Wisconsin-Whitewater. His father, Missouri volleyball coach Wayne Kreklow, was an All-American basketball player at Drake and won a championship in his lone NBA season with the Boston Celtics.    

“I’m trying to keep it going in the family,” Ryan Kreklow said.

That is exactly the mindset Wayne Kreklow doesn’t want his son to have.

“Having to live up to someone else’s history is one of the worst things someone could have to do,” Wayne Kreklow said.

Despite his father playing collegiately, Wayne Kreklow never felt pressured to succeed at any sport growing up. He naturally gravitated towards basketball.

Wayne Kreklow’s father coached him but took a laid-back approach. His memories of his youth playing days are of his dad encouraging him to do his best and play as hard as he could, not of a parent questioning his son’s performance.

“I look back at my own experiences, I was lucky because my parents were very interested but not overbearing,” Wayne Kreklow said. “I did it because I liked it. You got to love it if you’re going to be good at it.”

Wayne Kreklow employed the same technique when raising his children. He didn’t want to relive his youth through his kids.

“My parents never pressured any of my siblings or myself into playing any particular sport. Basketball is just what my brother and I ended up going to,” Ricky Kreklow said.

Wayne Kreklow and his wife Susan Kreklow, an assistant volleyball coach at Mizzou, didn’t start their family until settling in Missouri, which ended up being a blessing.

“My basketball happened so long ago, and that was a good thing because they (Ricky and Ryan Kreklow and their sister Ali) didn’t have to deal with that,” Wayne Kreklow said. “I grew up in Wisconsin and played college ball in Iowa. Nobody in Missouri knows who I am.”

The Kreklow brothers developed their affinity for basketball on their own. Soccer was enjoyable and baseball was incredibly boring. Basketball was by far the most fun to play. And this was the case for the Kreklow brothers, in spite of their father’s accomplishments.

“He doesn’t live in that, he’s very proud of what he’s done but he’s very humble,” Ricky Kreklow said. “It’s not like you go into a room and see this huge trophy room of his accomplishments, he’s not like that. So I didn’t grow up seeing stuff like that and think ‘that’s what he did, that’s what I have to do.’

“If someone has to make you go practice every day, you’re not going to be very good because you’re not going to be into it.”

While motivation to practice isn’t lacking, a place for the Kreklow brothers to hone their skills once practice ends sometimes is.

Ryan Kreklow and Rock Bridge teammate Nick Norton, whose father is the associate head coach of the Missouri women’s basketball team, often take advantage of their parents’ status as Missouri coaches and shoot around on their own at Mizzou Arena.

It was a routine Ricky Kreklow grew accustomed to in high school and during his one season as a Tiger.

These workouts replaced the games of horse and one-on-one in the family’s driveway — games Ryan Kreklow admits he typically lost to his older brother.

“I don’t even think now it’d be much of a game, make sure you tell him that,” Ricky Kreklow said laughing. “He’s a little guy, he’s got a ways to go. But he’s gotten a lot better recently. It’d be fun to play him again, but I got to be careful not to break the confidence he has now.”

Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said Ryan Kreklow is never one to lack confidence. It's rare that Ryan Kreklow looks to pass when he has the ball in his hands behind the 3-point line, and he has begun to remind onlookers of Ricky Kreklow’s efficiency from long range.

However, Wayne Kreklow says the similarities stop there. A Columbia Youth Basketball Association camp his sons attended around the age of five comes to mind.

“Rick was always out there smiling, having fun,” Wayne Kreklow said. “Ryan looked like he was out for blood.”

Playing on courts with five-foot hoops, Ricky Kreklow went out of his way to get everybody involved, especially the kids who hadn’t scored. Ryan Kreklow, though, had no tolerance for his fellow campers who didn’t understand the game. When players who didn’t know how to dribble or shoot looked to the stands for advice from their parents, Ryan ripped the ball out of their hands and went for a layup.

“He’d go for the throat,” Wayne Kreklow said. “Sometimes I had to hide my face in my hands in the stands.”

Ricky Kreklow knows the comparisons of his younger brother to him are unavoidable.

“I was just there a few years ago. It’s not like there was that much time removed, so I can understand why for now it seems like that, but we’re different players,” Ricky Kreklow said. “... Right now, he’s doing extremely well and there’s no telling how good he’s going to get, if not better than I was at that point.

Ricky Kreklow would like to see his brother accomplish something he couldn’t: win a state championship.

No matter what his youngest son accomplishes at Rock Bridge, Wayne Kreklow just wants Ryan to be Ryan.

“At the end of the day, he’s got to do his own thing,” Wayne Kreklow said. "He’s a different person from Ricky. Everybody knows Rick, it’s hard to avoid that, but Ryan works hard enough and plays well enough to be his own person.”

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