Basketball Star Chase Budinger Has NBA Future - page 2

By Tom Sheridan on March 31, 2006

copyright McDonald's All-Star GameAlmost as soon as Budinger's basketball season concluded, he was back on the court with the La Costa Canyon volleyball team. He plans on playing through the summer with his club team, Seaside Volleyball, before committing full-time to basketball when he begins attending the University of Arizona in the fall.

One of the most agonizing parts of the recruiting process was resolving the volleyball issue.

"It was a tough choice," Budinger said. "It was a big decision. My family and I sat down and talked about it. I loved playing both. But it was time to focus on one. I had talked to a couple of people who had done it (played volleyball and basketball in college) and they said it just wears your body down."

Still, Budinger maintains that his volleyball skill-set contributed significantly to his success in basketball.

"It definitely helps," he said. "I wouldn't be able to dunk like I do without volleyball, and it helps with quickness and everything. I think it's the best two-sport crossover that there is."

Volleyball is a major high school sport in San Diego and Budinger made waves by leading La Costa Canyon to the section title in his sophomore and junior years. He was named the county player of the year both seasons. The timing and jumping skills that he developed in volleyball were evident recently when he finished a close second in the dunk contest at the McDonald's Game to Gerald Henderson Jr., of The Episcopal Academy in suburban Philadelphia, who has signed with Duke. That was after Budinger wowed the 3,000-plus jammed into San Diego State's Peterson Gym with two perfect dunks in the first round of the competition. Henderson outscored him 60-58 in the final round.

Although Budinger won't play the sport in college, he has trained with the USA Junior National volleyball team and will remain on the radar of national team coaches as long as he remains ambulatory.

"It's not over yet," Budinger said, when questioned about his volleyball future this spring. He was talking specifically about his immediate plans to play high school volleyball, but depending on the direction his basketball career takes, volleyball will continue to be a strong fall-back option for as long as he wants it to be one.

Budinger started on the La Costa Canyon varsity basketball team as a freshman, but it wasn't until he attended the ABCD Camp in 2004 that he made his way onto the major college recruiting radar. The camp, held at Farleigh Dickinson University in Hackensack, N.J., brought together the best high school players in the nation including Gerald Green (Boston Celtics), Amir Johnson (Detroit Pistons draftee) and Greg Oden (No. 1 high school player Class of 2006).

"I got an invitation to the ABCD Camp and it was a real awakening experience for me," Budinger said. "I was a nobody back then and it was quite a surprise. There were all these great players, big players, real fast guys. I came in not expecting anything. But as camp went on I got better and better. I fit in pretty well and started to make a name for myself. I saw that I could compete at that level with a bunch of different guys. That really started my career."

Soon after the major basketball powers were lining up to talk to him. So Budinger and his family — father Duncan, and mother, Mara, who have been described as recreational volleyball players — had to sift through the myriad offers.

"Early on I decided I wanted to stay on the West Coast," Budinger said. "I didn't want to bother with the East Coast schools. So my decision narrowed down a lot. The four schools I finally decided on were Arizona, UCLA, USC and Kansas. Those were the teams I was focusing on and after a little while I pushed Kansas away because I didn't feel it was a good fit for me.