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Kase Wynott set to become Idaho's all-time leading boys basketball scorer

Utah State University signee from Lapwai is expected to break Jared Mercer's state-record 2,589 points Thursday against Clearwater Valley
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Thousands of players have tried.

And even a few of them have come close.

Yet, despite all valiant efforts, Idaho’s all-time high school boys basketball scoring record has stood for the better part of three decades now.

But the state’s most coveted mark is likely to go down - finally - in a few hours.

Kase Wynott currently sits third on the all-time list with 2,584 points. The 6-foot-6 Lapwai High School senior guard is just one point behind Wilder’s Spencer Lynn (2,585) at No. 2 - and five points off of the career record set by former Kamiah High great Jared Mercer (2,589), set in 1993.

Wynott will get his chance at history tonight at 7 p.m. (MST). against Clearwater Valley inside the storied Lapwai High gymnasium.

“Really what I’m thinking is, I can’t make eye contact with both of my parents,” Wynott said. “It’s going to be a surreal moment, for sure.”

And one that was destined for him.

His father, Jeremiah Wynott, was an All-American and actually played with Mercer at Lewis-Clark State College in nearby Lewiston.

His name is still all over the program’s record books. He ranks fourth all-time in both points (21.6) and rebounds (7.6) per game. Wynott then went on to play professionally overseas in Australia for two years.

Kase Wynott

So, it was to be expected that his one and only son would follow suit.

Kase Wynott picked up a basketball for the first time at age 3. He officially started playing years later in the second grade. It was then at a middle-school gymnasium in Lewiston where Wynott, who was on an AAU team with fourth and fifth graders, scored his first points. Only these didn’t technically count - for him.

He checked into the game and lined up on the free-throw line. Wynott grabbed the rebound off the missed attemp. But instead of passing the ball off to one of his teammates, he put it right back on the glass on the other team’s basket.

“He was a little young out there,” Jeremiah Wynott said with a laugh. “But he picked it up pretty quick."

So much so that Kase Wynott started playing junior-high basketball at Highland (Craigmont) for his dad the following year. On a team filled with seventh and eighth graders that first season, he was the best player at age 9. It was a title he never relinquished - until moving to Lapwai in the seventh grade.

“I remember distinctly in the fifth grade him scoring 56 points in a junior high basketball game,” Jeremiah Wynott said.

Zach Eastman had heard these stories, too, upon his arrival to Lapwai eight years ago. The Lapwai High School boys basketball coach was a referee at the time. So, it wasn’t long before he got to see the almost mythical figure himself. And Kase Wynott lived up to it all and then some.

“At 11 years old, he was already using his left hand for jump hook shots,” Eastman said. “All of the tools that he uses now, he was doing at a really young age.”

Lapwai’s middle -chool team didn’t lose a game for two years with him on the roster.

But Eastman still made Wynott earn his spot as a ninth grader.

Kase Wynott, Lapwai basketball, class of 2024

He didn’t start for the first seven games of his high-school career. And in just his fourth game wearing the famous white and baby-blue uniform at the gym that’s home to 12 state championships - the most in Idaho history - Wynott scored two points against Troy.

It didn’t help that this was among the first basketball games he had played in months with the coronavirus pandemic shutting everything down.

“We had to get him in shape and just teach him how to play man-to-man team defense. We had to teach him our concepts,” Eastman said. “A lot of people always think that Kase has always been starting and this star. No, he had to learn a lot of stuff. Once he started getting into shape and really meshing with the guys, there was no turning back.”

Titus Yearout was one of them.

The current Idaho Vandals guard, who was once the school's all-time leading scorer (2,034 pointts) - and No. 8 in Idaho history - is whom Wynott personally credits the most with his high-school development.

“That was like my main mentor,” Wynott said. “He taught me how to be a leader - how to be a vocal leader, how to lead by example and especially about work ethic. I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t work that hard coming into high school. And seeing how Titus worked, it showed me what I needed to do.”

Only now, Wynott takes it to a whole other level.

He works out seven days a week. Wynott wakes up at around 5 a.m.. And between shooting, workouts, school, practice, games, more shooting and more workouts, Wynott often doesn’t get back until well after the sun has gone down.

On the way home from his record-breaking 68-point, 15-rebound, 10-assist triple-double last Friday against Genesee, Wynott asked his dad to drop him off at the gym to get another weight-lifting session in.

He also has his own personal gym at home, which is in the middle of the woods. While Wynott does have an actual weight set now, he used to jump up and down off of cinderblocks, do pulling exercises by tying cords to trees and run hills through the forest with sandbags on his back.

lapwai kamiah idaho basketball playoffs00015

“When you have a kid at a young age that is willing to do whatever it takes to get to their goal, it’s really special because you don’t see those kids that much these days,” Eastman said. “A lot of those things that kids don’t do, Kase does.”

Which is why he’s on the precipice of history.

While he helped the Wildcats win back-to-back state championships with first-team all-state selections in each of his first two seasons, talk of breaking Idaho’s most prolific record didn’t really start until last year.

That’s when he became regarded as "Mr. Triple Double."

Wynott recorded eight triple doubles - and his only first quadruple-double of 37 points, 19 rebounds, 12 assists and 10 steals in a 103-36 win over Genesee during the opening round of the Class 1A Division I District Tournament in mid-February. Wynott ended up leading the state in both points (952) and assists (199) last season.

The 952 points are the most any player has had in a single season in Idaho history (averaged out to 35.6 points per game, to go along 15.0 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 4.0 steals and 3.3 blocks).

It was last season when Mercer first saw Wynott play - in a game against Troy in early February.

“I’m OK with it,” Mercer said about Wynott breaking his record. “Thirty-one years is a pretty good run. Records are meant to be broken and it’s neat to see a kid from our area doing that.”

That’s because Mercer was that kid himself.

Kamiah, with a population of a little more than 1,200, is 60 miles west and in the same 1A DI Whitepine League as Lapwai.

Kase Wynott, Lapwai basketball, class of 2024

Mercer, who also played at the University of Idaho, set the record on Jan. 9, 1993 in a 68-58 win at home against Timberline (Weippe). He surpassed Kyle Wombolt’s (Kellogg/Coeur d’Alene) previous record of 2,176 points; Wombolt actually played club basketball for Mercer's father.

“I was just kind of hoping to get it done and then kind of move on and get ourselves to state that year,” Mercer said. “So it was kind of a relief when it was done, I guess. Having it in the background and now you can focus on the team.”

A sentiment Wynott also shares.

More than the record, he wants redemption for last season. Lapwai saw its 62-game winning streak and bid for a third consecutive state championship come to a heartbreaking end in an 81-79 overtime loss to Lakeside.

“It took a lot out of me, I’m not going to lie. I was kind of depressed after that loss,” Wynott said. “I never want to feel that again. So, I’ve worked extra hard. I’m not going to lie, the reason we lost that game is because I wasn’t in good enough shape to play that hard. But this year I’m in the best shape of my life - and I’m coming.”

Wynott is once again leading the state in scoring (593 points) and assists (145) this season.

He’s almost averaging a triple-double at 37.4 points, 14.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game. Wynott has 10 triple-doubles thus far, including a current streak of six in a row. And two of them have really made headlines.

The first was a 57-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist effort Jan. 8 against Logos. The 57 points was a career-high. But that only lasted 11 days.

He broke Dietrich’s Alan Stoddard’s 37-year-old single-game scoring record (66) with a 68-point, 15-rebound, 10-assist special in a 105-43 win at Genesee last Saturday. Wynott could have broken Mercer’s record that same day. But it was decided to have him wait and do it in front of his home-town crowd.

So he was pulled with 2:30 remaining to set the stage for what should be a special and historic night tonight. Mercer is expected to be on hand to personally congratulate the one who finally did it.

“It should be that way because he’s put in so much effort and so much work,” Jeremiah Wynott said. “He’s athletic. He's strong. He has great vision. He’s a great ball handler. I’m very, very proud of him. But I’m not in awe of it like maybe everyone else is. Because I do expect it and he expects that of himself as well.”

Kase Wynott, Lapwai basketball, class of 2024