A starting basketball guard during Kansas State’s run of four straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2010-14), Will Spradling knew he wanted to get into coaching after his college playing career ended with the Wildcats.
But Spradling, who has been the head basketball coach at St. Marys Junior-Senior High School since 2015, decided against diving head-first into the rigors of, say, a college coaching post.
“I just got married and was just starting to raise a family,” Spradling said Friday during a phone interview with The Mercury. “I really didn’t want to go into college coaching at that point.”
Spradling, who resides in Manhattan with his wife, Meagan, and their two young daughters, has been able to parlay his current high school coaching post into other coaching avenues.
Most notably, his Spradling Skills Academy (SSA) has grown substantially, encompassing full-functioning instructional camps for Manhattan-area youths at Ahearn Field House.
It extends to a pair of SSA select traveling teams with a budget that allows them play in other places across the country.
“We have tryouts every year after spring break,” Spradling said. “We wait until after their high school basketball seasons are over. The academy is designed for whatever the basketball player wants to get out of it.
“Some players want to improve their individual skills when they play on their middle-school or high-school teams. We try to make it affordable.”
One example would be eight clinic sessions for $200, which is $25 per event.
A 6-foot-2 product of Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Spradling enjoyed individual success by becoming only one of four Kansas State players in school history to produce 1,000 points, 300 assists, 300 rebounds and 100 steals during a playing career.
Spradling played at Kansas State at a time when it had to transition from Frank Martin to Bruce Weber, both of whom experienced a high degree of success with the Wildcats.
“I most definitely have a lot of great memories from playing for Kansas State, including winning a Big 12 championship with Coach (Bruce) Weber,” Spradlng said. “It’s something I will never forget.”
Spradling got his idea for his academy as his playing days were coming to a close, teaming up with AJ Vinent, who formerly was Kansas State’s basketball manager, when Spradling played there.
Vinent is now an assistant boys coach at Jefferson County West High School, along with being the head coach of the 16U Elite Black.
He also helps run many facets of the SSA, whose mission is to inspire youth to take heir game to the next level.