Westosha Central senior Jaeden Zackery dishes a no-look assist to a teammate waiting in the right corner in the second half of the doubleheader against Wilmot. Zackery scored 22 points for the Falcons.

By Jason Arndt

After his freshman year, Westosha Central High School senior Jaeden Zackery had to decide whether to play baseball, basketball, or both.

The decision, according Jaeden Zackery, presented itself when he discovered both sports conflicted with one another on the club circuit.

Jaeden’s father, Marcus, remembers when he had to decide.

“He could have been as good in baseball as he is in basketball,” said Marcus, who recalled Jaeden could have played for the Falcons varsity baseball team as a sophomore.

Jaeden, an outfielder at Kenosha’s Puma Baseball Academy, eventually joined Kessel Heat in Libertyville, Ill. to bolster his basketball skills.

“I played baseball ever since I was younger until my freshman year in high school…then it was about time I had to make a decision, either baseball or basketball,” said Jaeden. “(Club) schedules run into each other and there is no time for both.”

“I chose basketball because that is what I really love.”

Jaeden’s love for basketball started early, courtesy of parents Marcus and Andrea, he said.

“It was really my mom and dad because they used to play basketball when they were younger,” he said. “They got me into it and I just fell in love with it.”

Zackery, a 6-foot-3 guard, has certainly loved playing basketball for Westosha Central.

As a junior, Zackery helped guide the Falcons to their first WIAA state appearance in school history and picked up Associated Press All-State honorable mention. He also garnered Division 2 first team All-State recognition by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.

Zackery’s junior campaign, in addition to his current senior season, has earned him The Report’s 2018 Male Athlete of the Year selected by staff.

Early exposure
When Zackery was a freshman, the Falcon coaching staff called him up from the junior varsity ranks to play a supporting role in Westosha Central’s playoff run.

Zackery, who admits he played in shadows of upperclassmen, like Tre Williams, said the opportunity was a blessing.

“It was a blessing because not a lot of freshman get the chance, like Jack Rose this year,” he said.

He looked to players, like Williams, for guidance when he started playing on the varsity level.

“They were good leaders and I just followed them,” said Zackery.

When he was a sophomore, Zackery faced his first test, playing against Tyler Herro and Whitnall to open the season.

Herro, then a junior, plays for Division 1 University of Kentucky.

“In my first varsity start, we played against them and that was probably the toughest opponent I ever played,” said Zackery, who knocked in six points while Herro buried a game-high 26 points.

In 2017-18, when Zackery collected multiple accolades, he averaged 17.3 points per game, 3.7 assists per game and 3.7 steals per game en route to the Falcons first state appearance in program history.

In the WIAA Division 2 state semifinal, Zackery had another test, this time against Kaukauna senior Jordan McCabe.

McCabe, now a freshman at Division 1 West Virginia University, was named the AP State Player of the Year and honored as “Mr. Basketball” by the WBCA.

Zackery, however, appeared unfazed by McCabe when the two met at the Kohl Center.

Despite losing to the Galloping Ghosts 75-63, Zackery scored a game-high 21 points and collected 11 rebounds.

McCabe, whose Ghosts eventually won the state title, knocked in 20 points.

Core chemistry
Zackery’s success would not be possible without his teammates, he said, noting they grew up like brothers playing for the local feeder program.

The local feeder program, known as Westosha Youth Basketball Club, works with youngsters from third through eighth grade.

On WYBC, Zackery played with senior teammates Samy Greco, Kyle Lois, Dylan Anderson, Jake Mueller, John Marcquenski, Adam Simmons and Joey Michelau

“This team has great chemistry and I love how close we are as brothers on and off the court,” Zackery said. “We have all been together since we were younger.”

The chemistry helped Zackery produce a stellar start to his senior year.

Through eight games, including a triple-double to open the season, Zackery leads the Falcons with 21.1 points per game and 5.5 assists per game.

Zackery scored 63 total points, including 33 against Kenosha Indian Trail, at the Doctors of Physical Therapy Holiday Classic held on the Carthage College campus in December.


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