Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Decker Develops Game to Go with Big Picture

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Decker Develops Game to Go with Big Picture

Article excerpt

It's been a whirlwind eight months for Tate Decker, the 7-foot center for Webster Groves High.

It began in July when he participated in the Nike Camp at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. There, he showcased his basketball skills among the nation's top 100 seniors-to-be.

In November, Decker signed a national letter of intent with Missouri, becoming the Tigers' first major in-state commitment this season.

And on Friday, Decker lifted Webster Groves to its first district basketball title in eight years. Webster defeated CBC 67-58 at Ladue High as Decker scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter.

All this has overwhelmed the quiet, unassuming Decker, who leads Webster Groves (25-3) into a Missouri Class 4A sectional game against River view Gardens (17-8) at 8:15 tonight at Florissant Valley Community College.

Webster is two victories shy of its first state Final Four appearance since 1969, when it was runner-up to Sumner in Missouri Class L.

"Every game is getting bigger and bigger," Decker said. "I never pictured myself getting a big-time, Division I scholarship, and then winning the district championship."

Decker never pictured himself as a star player, but here he is, averaging 18.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocked shots for the No. 1 team in the Post-Dispatch large-schools poll.

"My (first) impression of him was, he wasn't awkward," Webster coach Tim Moore said. ". . . For his size, he had remarkable athletic ability. He may have felt awkward and clumsy, but I thought he was going to be a good one from the very beginning."

But Decker said: "I was real goofy. My game was catch-and-shoot."

Decker began playing basketball in eighth grade when he joined the Show-Me Shooters, an Amateur Athletic Union team. One of his teammates was Chris Carrawell, a Duke recruit who plays for Cardinal Ritter High.

"I loved watching Chris," Decker said. Fact was, Decker watched everyone.

"I never played a game for the Show-Me Shooters," said Decker, who was a novice and relegated to the bench. "A couple of times, coaches told me to post up, and I didn't know what they meant. …

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