How to become a 1,000-point scorer in high school basketball
Brody Parker took a deep, deep breath and surveyed the scene.
He met eyes with his father, his mother, his brother, his teammates, his coach. He took pause to appreciate each person who had played a role in getting him to this point.
The Troy High School senior had just scored his 1,000th career varsity point, and this would be a moment to treasure.
The 1,000-point mark is not entirely rare territory, at least 20 boys and girls high school basketball players in Michigan have eclipsed the milestone already this season. But it has become a cherished and coveted – and reachable – goal for serious players who strive to make their mark.
Getting there is no fluke. It takes a commitment to the game and so much more. And MLive is taking a look at the conditions that may help an aspiring 1,000-point scorer achieve it.
It should be noted that 74 players have reached 2,000 points in Michigan High School Athletic Association history – 43 boys and 31 girls. That kind of career is next-level and puts an asterisk on virtually every category about to be explored here.
The 1,000-point club isn’t quite so exclusive, but it’s an esteemed circle nonetheless. Here are some tips to joining the club.
Work your butt off, of course
There are no players who got lucky and scored 1,000 points. It takes too much skill to put the ball through the hoop that many times.
Players don’t necessarily need to attend camps, take individual lessons, play in travel leagues and commit themselves to the gym morning, noon and night to become an elite scorer, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Parker said he’s committed himself to improving his game since elementary school. Not only did he soak up all the structured instruction he could, but he dove into an at-home program with his father as they formed a tight bond through basketball.
“When everybody else was inside because it was too hot, or they were too tired, or they wanted to play video games, I was out in the hot, beating sun shooting baskets,” said Parker, who signed with Oakland University for next year.
“We spent hours and hours in the hot sun outside. He’d stay under the basket and rebound and I would just shoot and shoot and shoot. Most people would say the best part of my game is my shooting ability, and that’s no mistake.”
Literally launching one million shots – which equates to 500 shots a day over a nearly six-year stretch – Parker honed his skills as well as his resolve to be a high-scoring hoops threat.
“You put in months of work and you might not see results right away,” he said. “That can be hard, especially for a young athlete. It’s easy to say ‘I’m not going to keep this up.’ But you have to keep your eye on the prize and have tunnel vision, and know it’s going to pay off eventually. That’s what I did.”
To prepare for his senior season, Parker said he spent two hours a day on skill training, two hours of weight training and two more hours of shooting – good for a six-hour regimen. One game into the season, he scored his 1,000th point.
Contribute from start to finish
Reaching the 1,000-point plateau generally takes some longevity, so the earlier players begin their varsity careers, the better the odds.
“It’s mostly a four-year achievement,” Bay City John Glenn girls basketball coach Cory Snider said. “So, obviously, you have to be not only good enough to come up as a freshman, but good enough to contribute at a high level right away.”
Step 1 of that process, is having a coach who is willing to give an instant varsity callup to a player coming off the middle school circuit. With more and more players gaining experience in offseason events, more and more freshmen are arriving varsity-ready.
“If a freshman is ready, we’ll bring them up – and they won’t typically sit the bench,” Kent City girls basketball coach Scott Carlson said. “If they’re ready, they’re going to get significant playing time.”
If a player plays in 80 games in a varsity career, it would take a very manageable 12.5 points per game to hit 1,000. A player who averages 20 games a season – the amount of games scheduled by most teams during the regular season – would hit the milestone by averaging 9.5 points as a freshman, 11.5 as a sophomore, 13.5 as a junior and 15.5 as a senior.
“You don’t necessarily have to be a high scorer, but you have to be consistent,” Carlson said. “Are you going to be consistent with your work ethic? Are you going to keep going, keep improving?
“When you’re a freshman, you’re not the focus yet. But that starts to change when you’re a sophomore or junior. The pressure is on you to score and distribute the ball, so your game has to go up a level. Not everybody does a great job going from an ancillary player to the player.”
Parker said his experience of playing varsity as a freshman at Troy has proved invaluable in his growth. But it takes the right mindset as a ninth grader to get the most out of the opportunity.
“It’s great to contribute as a freshman. But everybody is bigger, faster and stronger than you, and you’ve got to find a way to contribute,” he said. “If you’re coming in thinking you’re going to be a big scorer, that isn’t the way to go about it.”
Be a very good player in a very good program
Talented scorers can come from anywhere and everywhere, but it doesn’t hurt when they’re in the right environment for those talents to be cultivated.
Quite often, 1,000-point milestone moments are celebrated at programs with a history of producing standout players and a history of delivering team success.
“We have a strong girls basketball tradition at Kent City, and a lot of it is because the older girls are fantastic with the little girls at our camps,” Carlson said. “Not only do the younger girls know the older girls, but they watch them play and say ‘I want to shoot like her one day, or handle the ball like her some day.’ That goes a long way to keeping the cycle going.”
The up-and-coming players see the blueprint for success right before their eyes. The ones who follow it are more likely to build on the tradition – and perhaps become part of it as a 1,000-point scorer.
“We give our girls the tools and training to be good basketball players,” Carlson said. “Some put in additional time – some an unbelievable amount. They track their shots, play on AAU teams, attend camps. They put in time to be really good, and it shows.”
Of course, playing on a successful team comes with addition benefits in the pursuit of 1,000 career points. A long tournament run means more chances to add to the point total.
“If you get three games in the district and one or two more in regionals, suddenly you’re at 25 games,” said Carlson, whose up-tempo style at Kent City is also conducive to big offensive numbers. “If you’re a winning team, you get more games and more opportunities. And that multiplies the further you go.”
Hannah Spitzley and Ellie Droste reached the 1,000-point milestone on consecutive nights last season for Pewamo-Westphalia. They each played in 81 games in their first three seasons – with two state final berths and a third final-four run. That basically equated to four seasons’ worth of games in three years.
Keep it a team thing
There can be a fine line between being a go-to scorer and being a ball hog. The good ones recognize the difference.
“My favorite saying is ‘Shooters shoot,’” said Parker, who once pumped in 35 points in a game for Troy. “Everybody has a role on the team, and you’ve got to understand your role. You’ve got to know your strengths. If you want to be a scorer, over time you have to prove you can do it.”
Parker said it’s not an either-or situation. Even players who are capable of pouring in 1,000 points must embrace playing defense, rebounding and, yes, dishing the ball off to teammates who can put the ball in the hoop as well.
Point in fact, Parker’s teammate Ethan Emerzian also eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for Troy this season.
“It is definitely do-able while contributing to the team in other ways. You are able to get your teammates involved a lot and still get 1,000 points,” he said. “You can’t just come up the court and jack up a bunch of shots. You’ve got to have the team’s best interest in mind. It’s not about you.”
Snider has coached five 1,000-point scorers at John Glenn, and he said the common thread has been a team-first mentality.
“Any great basketball player is going to be team-driven, I believe that in my heart,” he said. “If you’ve got dreams and aspirations to play at the next level, the next level doesn’t take well to selfish players.”
Of course, a big season of scoring can go a long way toward reaching the 1,000-point threshold. A four-year player who averages 18.0 points per game in one season would only need to average 10.7 the other three seasons. Bump that big season up to 20.0 per game and the remaining drops to just 7.5 per game.
But a player who shoots too much may be missing a golden opportunity to score more – and score more easily. Incorporating the supporting cast generally stresses the defense and creates more high-percentage shots for everybody.
“When you’ve got a 1,000-point scorer, how actively does he or she get others involved? Or how much do they try to take on their own shoulders?” Snider said.
“We always tell our kids to get others involved early and pick and choose your spots. If you get everybody in rhythm, it makes your job easier. If you’re constantly forcing the issue and trying to score all the time, then try to get others involved later in the game, it’s too late. It’s not going to work.”
Form a dynamic duo
One notable trend that has emerged in recent years is the presence of two 1,000-point scorers in one lineup. Teams that have a 1-2 scoring punch – like Parker and Emerzian at Troy — can wreak havoc on opponents and lead to good things for everybody on the squad.
Sharing the scoring load may not seem beneficial in the quest for 1,000 points at first glance. But it’s a formula that can’t be denied.
“Obviously, there is more good than bad in that situation,” said Snider, who has had multiple 1,000-point scorers on his John Glenn team on two occasions. “You’re not the focal point of the defense. The awareness of the defense is spread out a bit, and that makes a huge difference.”
Glenn’s Carly McCrum and Abi Tarrant have formed a potent scoring tandem throughout their four-year varsity careers. Perhaps fittingly, they eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone in back-to-back contests.
“There can also be competition amongst teammates, and that can bring the best out or it can bring the worst out,” Snider said. “We’ve seen with Carly and Abi, they push each other and help each other. If Carly goes for 30 and Abi goes for eight and we win, Abi is just as happy as Carly.”
At Kent City this season, Jenna Harrison hit the 1,000-point mark on the same night that teammate Kenzie Bowers eclipsed the 1,500-point milestone. Grass Lake’s Abrie Cabana and Lexus Bargesser can also say they are teammates in the 1,000-point club.
Marcellus’ Kaeler Stafne and Gavin Etter, teammates on last year’s squad, helped propel each other beyond 1,000 points, just as Brayden Mallak and Owen Franklin did at Oscoda and Hadley Miller and Kali Heivilin did at Three Rivers.
“It certainly helps if you don’t have just one great player,” said Carlson, who has coached four 1,000-point scorers at Kent City. “Any coach is going to scheme against that.”
Don’t count points
When the season came to an abrupt halt in 2020, Troy was denied a chance to play for a district title – and Parker was left within 12 points of 1,000 for his career.
He said that number helped motivate him to prepare for this season. But when game night finally arrived, he said he was so fired up for the chance to play, the milestone completely slipped his mind – and that may be a best-case scenario.
There exist horror stories of players pressing to get to that looming mark, throwing up ill-advised shots and doing uncharacteristic things with quadruple digits on their brain.
“The closer you get to it, the more impossible it becomes to ignore,” said Snider, in his 12th season as John Glenn coach. “It’s something that looms over you. It’s a great problem to have, but it can make you press the issue a bit and take you out of the rhythm. No matter how hard you try to put it out of your mind, it’s going to be the elephant in the room until you reach it.”
That’s one reason why it is beneficial for players to not track their points. Don’t keep a tally, don’t start a countdown, just play the game, recommends Carlson, who was able to do just that when he himself went over 1,000 points during his Kent City playing days.
“We didn’t make any big deal out of it. Myself and my coach were the only ones who knew at the time,” he said. “We were playing White Cloud, and they were a top-5 team and undefeated – and we beat them at their place. Points had no consideration on that night.
“Points are something you count up afterward. That’s for after the season, after your career. Points are something we might look at and say ‘Great job’ at our banquet. Put in the work, play team basketball and the rewards will come – they just do.”
Enjoy your milestone moment
On the nights that Carly McCrum and Abi Tarrant reached their 1,000-point milestones for John Glenn, coach Cory Snider was ready for the moment.
He immediately called a timeout each time and brought the player over to celebrate with her teammates mid-game. Although both happened on the road, the home team had been alert ahead of time and each made an announcement of the achievement to the crowd.
“It’s too important of an accomplishment to not do something,” Snider said. “It puts a finish line to it. It’s kind of like saying ‘OK, it’s done and over with. Let’s move on and play the way we’re supposed to play.’”
Parents presented each player who a poster to commemorate the moment and, at the next home game, the tandem were formally celebrated in pregame ceremonies to the roar of the fans. At John Glenn, a basketball is added to the trophy case outside the gymnasium to forever enshrine the player among the all-time greats.
That, perhaps, is what the 1,000-point milestone is all about — recognition for the time and effort it takes to craft the impact-making career of a high school player.
“It was a surreal moment for me,” said Parker, who reached 1,000 career points in a season-opening win over Fraser. “To look up in the stands and see all the people who have been there for me clapping… it was special. It made me reflect on all the hard work that went into it and made me think ‘Wow, I’ve been here for four years and I’ve been able to do a lot with my team and my community.’
“For any high school player, that’s an achievement they can be proud of.”