Solid as a rock
SIOUX CITY | Shortly before the start of his final basketball season, Aidan Vanderloo discovered his familiar No. 3 jersey didn’t fit.
Credit it to the 15 pounds of weight and muscle the East High senior gained, resulting from an off-season where he was as diligent in lifting as he was with shooting. He was no longer pushed around when he slashed inside.
And, he remained deadly from the outside. The added bulk to Vanderloo’s 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame didn’t affect his dangerous mid-range jumper. He topped 50 percent from three-point range for the fourth consecutive year, helping East reach the Class 4A state tournament for the third straight year.
“I had a meeting with the coaching staff and they said if you want to be elite and better yourself to better this team, (lifting) is one thing you have to start taking seriously,” said Vanderloo. “In the offseason, I took it more seriously. I put on some weight, some muscle weight and I saw drastic changes in my game.
“I was more physical with the ball. I had a lot less dumb turnovers from being beaten on. I didn’t get as many balls ripped from me. In the paint, I was a lot more efficient. I could score a lot more baskets without being bumped around and bumped off my course. Overall, being stronger helps every aspect of your game.”
Topping 20 points 14 times and 30 on four occasions, Vanderloo averaged a career-best 22.4 points for the 21-2 squad led by his uncle, head coach Ras Vanderloo. Honored today as the Sioux City Journal’s Northwest Iowa Boys Basketball Player of the Year, the University of Iowa recruit became East’s all-time leader with 1,477 points and 170 three-point baskets.
“It was full, straight ahead commitment to the weight room for probably six months,” said Coach Vanderloo. “It was (done) during extra time, coming back in the evening or early in the morning or other times besides the normal time, outside of practice time. We have a weightlifting class during school which all our athletes take. That maintains a level. Then when he came back, after school at night or early in the morning, he would do another round.
“I would say he gained 15 to 18 pounds, but it was good weight, muscle weight. Here’s a story. We had to take his jersey from last year and cut the sides out and a seamstress put material in to make it fit. That’s a true story. He started the season and he couldn’t put it on. That’s how much he gained.”
Aidan was concerned the lifting would affect his shot, which converted 49 of 95 shots from beyond the arc in his final season for 51.9 percent. At first, he said it did, but he kept plugging away.
Shooting alone in his off-time with a machine at East High called “The Gun”, which automatically rebounded his misses and fired the basketball back to him, Vanderloo launched 60,000 shots after that junior season when he averaged 16.4 points, which included 52.5 percent three-point shooting (52 of 99).
“I always believe your shot selection will help your shot percentage,” said Aidan, as he talked about his shooting. “I take good shots and more will go in. I credit myself on being efficient that way.
“Our coaching staff runs some phenomenal stuff to get me open looks and get me to the spots where I need to be. I give a lot of credit to my players. They get me the ball where I need the ball and where I am at and they give it to me in time. I couldn’t have played with better point guards and better players to get me that spot.”
The way Aidan looks at it, it boils down to 20 percent of him making the shot and 80 percent on teammates getting him the ball where he needs it. Ras guesses his nephew has launched over 100,000 shots because when he checked “The Gun”, it was at 40,000 after his junior year.
“He’s as good a shooter as we have had in 25 years,” said Ras. “When you shoot the ball, you think it’s going in, those are the type that you think when he shoots it. “We’ve had a lot of guys shoot, but you don’t think that when he shoots it. Aidan, when he got squared up the basket, shooting the ball, you always knew there was a chance of it going in.
“His little mid-range jumper was incredible. People who were at our West game at West and the Sergeant Bluff game at Sergeant Bluff, where he had 30-some points in those games, he had the mid-range going. He’d drive it one dribble, them boom. I don’t want to say he was automatic, but he was good.”