Burger doing whatever he can to help JasperJanuary 30, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — He measures in a 5-foot-9, but according to his coach, Jasper junior guard Caleb Burger plays with a competitive drive that makes him Ben Simmons-sized when he’s on the court.
“If his height matched the heart that he plays with, he’d be 7 feet tall,” said Jasper coach John Goebel. “Skillwise, he’s a good ball handler and passer. He can run the point for us if we need him to. He sees the floor and distributes the ball well. He knows how to take the ball to the rim and finish with contact.”
Goebel has watched Burger grow as a player since the first grade, but his days with a ball in his hands go back further than that. Burger recalls his late father, John Burger, first introducing him to the world of roundball, and credits him with developing his skills and igniting his love for the sport.
“I was probably 3 or 4 years old when my dad put a ball in my hand,” said Burger. “We always went out in the drive and shot everyday. He coached me up until high school, he’s a big part of my life.”
John could certainly be proud of what his son has become during his time with the Wildcats, as Burger has used his skills in a couple of different roles for the varsity team. As a sophomore he was the first man off the bench when Goebel started going to his reserves, and he was entrusted with running the offense and keeping his defensive assignments in check for a team that went on to win a sectional title.
“Every time I went in, I knew I had to play hard, hustle and do whatever I could to help them,” he said. “I knew how to come off the bench for guys who were in foul trouble, just to give them a little break.”
This season Burger had to adjust to a new role as part of the Wildcats’ starting five. Of course he was excited to step in and pick up more of the workload as it relates to scoring and taking care of the ball, but Burger also looked back gratefully at all the work he had put in as a JV and reserve varsity player that prepared him for his chance to shine.
“When coach told me, I knew I had to step up,” he said. “Competing against those varsity guys my freshman year really helped you get to the next level. Building friendships along the way helped me, and that’s probably the biggest key to it.”
“He’s a good example of how hard work pays off,” added Goebel. “He’s blessed with athletic ability, but he’s put in the time. His success is not surprising to us.”
Now that he’s a major cog in the Wildcats’ machine, Burger doesn’t anticipate slowing down anytime soon. His hard work — and some help from his lucky socks — has propelled him up the high school basketball chain, and he, in turn, reaches back to help the younger players reach their fullest potential like the past seniors did for him. There’s still a lot left to accomplish for this season and beyond, but it all goes back to the core tenets he’s held since he started lacing up his shoes.
“I hustle all the time,” he said. “When I’m out there, I like to compete. It’s not about scoring points, it about contributing in other ways, and hustle.”
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