High School Sports

NBA, NFL draftees put Keller Central on the map

Joel Bolomboy led Keller Central to the District 7-5A title as a senior in 2012.
Joel Bolomboy led Keller Central to the District 7-5A title as a senior in 2012. Special to the Star-Telegram

At 13 years, Keller Central High School is a newcomer to the landscape of high school alumni braggarts.

Southlake Carroll has a couple of guys putting lots of groceries on the table with NFL salaries. Euless Trinity boasts a native Trojan among the ranks of NBA players with a sizable upside. Big brother Keller has a couple of big leaguers playing baseball on the game’s biggest stage.

If you go into town, Fort Worth’s Arlington Heights and Paschal, more than 125 years old, will tell you all that you should know.

A’Shawn Robinson is the latest of a list of alumni achievers at Heights, where among its ranks are Tony and Grammy winners, statesmen and, of course, titans of folk rock.

Paschal’s Panthers? Alan Bean’s foundation for blast off to the moon was a science lab on Forest Park Boulevard. So, there’s that.

Building a school culture and tradition requires outstanding students and events. And Keller Central recently pinned a notable feat to its marquee.

When 6-foot-9 center/forward Joel Bolomboy was drafted in the second round by the Utah Jazz a couple of weeks ago, Central earned the rare distinction of having former student-athletes selected in the NBA and NFL drafts in the same year.

Bolomboy, who played collegiately at Weber State, was selected after Zack Sanchez, a defensive back who played at Oklahoma, was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round in May.

Moreover, both are from the high school’s Class of 2012, as was offensive lineman Simon Goines, who almost certainly would have been drafted this year if not for health problems that plagued him at UCLA.

“It’s exciting for our students,” football coach Bart Helsley said. “It’s rewarding to see other kids at Central High School kind of enjoy seeing that and take pride in that.

“That class was a talented group of kids. They were go-getters, too. Not just those two, but there were a bunch. To have a young man get drafted in the NFL and NBA … it has to be fairly rare.”

It is. Las Vegas Bishop Gorman was only other high school with draft picks in the NFL and NBA: Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame was selected by the Baltimore Ravens, and UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman was taken by Orlando.

Central basketball coach Warren Sledge recalled five from that class who competed at the NCAA Division I level in their sports.

The effort Bolomboy and Sanchez made to get here was embodied the day after the NBA Draft.

“The plane hadn’t landed” the Friday after the June 23 draft, Sledge said, and Bolomboy had already texted asking his former coach if the high school gym was available.

“I’ve been working him out since that Friday,” said Sledge, who was Bolomboy’s freshman coach. “He hasn’t stopped working out. He wants to be the best all the time.”

Bolomboy, now playing with the Jazz’s summer-league team, has come a long way from his days as a “shy” freshman at Central, like a “baby deer,” Sledge said. The player didn’t fully come into his own until the summer between his junior and senior years when he played nationally against Division I players. It was there he realized he could play with the best players in the nation.

Before being selected with the 52nd pick, Bolomboy, the Big Sky’s MVP last season, stood out at Weber State, finishing as the school’s and conference’s career leader in rebounds. He is among the top 10 in career scorers at Weber State, which twice advanced to the NCAA Tournament in the past four seasons.

“We had a lot of people in the gym” his senior season, the scouts or “shirts,” as Sledge and other coaches call them.

“He wanted to prove he belonged when those guys came in to see other players,” Sledge said.

And now, because of Bolomboy and Sanchez, Central belongs with the prideful of Fort Worth-area schools.

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