Sports

SK's La Deaux early to rise, eager to help

It’s not often that a sophomore starts on two varsity teams at the state’s largest high school.

Leon La Deaux just keeps finding a way.

With such seniors as quarterback Chad Tester, running back Stephen Tucker and wide receiver Devlan Miller on offense, the 6-foot-3 La Deaux made enough of an impact to garner first-team all-Narrows League Bridge Division selection at wide receiver.

“There’s a lot that goes into that with the commitment,” said South basketball coach John Callaghan, adding that feels La Deaux can be standout in football, basketball and track. “We haven’t three-sport athletes.”

With football another eight months away, La Deaux continues to make an impact for the Wolves on the basketball court. It took La Deaux, who starts at guard, just four games to make an impact when he converted 4 of 6 3-pointers en route to 14 points as South earned a 50-47 league win Dec. 7 against Gig Harbor.

“Coming into the season, we weren’t sure what he could do,” senior forward Collin Monagle said. “To have that kind of an impact definitely takes some weight off our shoulders.”

Some sophomores might be intimidated to join and start for a squad that has advanced to state in six of the last seven seasons. But La Deaux said playing football made the transition easier.

“It excites you at first, but you have to learn to get over it and accept that you’re playing with older guys,” he said. “There’s a responsibility and maturity level it takes to realize you have to get it done.”

Callaghan said La Deaux has obvious talent.

“I’ve seen him come up through the ranks,” he said. “He’s talented enough to make plays in whatever sport he’s in.”

He said there were larger concerns than his ability.

“Mentally, the biggest question for us was if he could keep his composure in tough situations,” Callaghan said. “He’s further along at this point than we expected.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge has yet to come. The Wolves advanced to the state playoffs in football for the first time since 2002, which extended the season to 11 weeks. Basketball season is around its midpoint and La Deaux acknowledges it’s been a bit tougher on his legs than he had imagined.

“When you come to basketball, it’s a completely different level of conditioning,” he said. “I’m not in as great of condition as I thought I would be. Your legs get tired, but you just have to accept it.”

After all, it’s been a way of life. A native of Bournemouth, England, La Deaux grew up playing soccer. He said his father, who lived in the area as a child, and his mother decided to relocate to Port Orchard when he was in elementary school, and soccer almost immediately became an afterthought. He credits that to South Colby Elementary School principal Brian Pickard.

“He threw me a basketball one day and said, ‘Have you ever played this before?’ He wanted me to come out and play basketball.”

La Deaux said football followed when some of his soccer-playing friends decided to take it up.

And several years later, he helped the Wolves reach the state playoffs for the first time since 2002. Graduations coupled with his postseason honors figure to make this fall more of a challenge for La Deaux.

“I’m probably going to have to work on some double coverage,” he said. “I also want to be a leader for the younger players.”

As for basketball, he wants to be more consistent. That could apply to most of the team, which fell to 6-5 after 47-43 loss Saturday against Bellevue Christian in the final game of the Comcast Christmas Classic at Bothell High School. With less than a month left in the regular season, La Deaux said it’s time for himself and his teammates to show more consistency.

One place where that never is an issue for La Deaux is in the classroom. He maintains a 3.7 grade-point average and enjoys creative writing so he can “pretend to be something else for a while.”

“Grades are really important to me because I’ve seen a lot of players who could’ve gone higher, but grades have held them back. I want to have talent inside and outside the classroom.”

La Deaux, who also plans to run track this spring, hopes to play basketball or football at the collegiate level. Just don’t ask him which one.

“There will be a lot of people I talk with, family and coaches, to see which one I can excel at,” he said, adding that his doctor told him he likely will grow another inch or two before he graduates.

For now, he’s just excited about his early success at South.

“I’m really excited that I have a part on two different levels of varsity at such a young age,” he said. “Hopefully, I can help out the seniors.”

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