It’s nearly impossible to separate Chase Jeter and Stephen Zimmerman. Both play essentially the same position for the same high school basketball team.
Both are considered top-10 recruits in the senior class. Both have been selected to play in the McDonald’s All American game.
And in the end, they were named co-players of the year to highlight the Review-Journal’s all-state boys basketball team.
“They were both so valuable for our team in different ways,” Bishop Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “They’re different, but they’re both so important.
“Once those guys really realized to appreciate each other and both use their strengths for the good of the team, it became an unbelievable dynamic duo.”
Jeter led the Gaels in scoring (16.8) and rebounding (10.8) and added 2.1 blocked shots in helping the team to an 27-6 record and its fourth consecutive state title.
Zimmerman averaged 14.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.4 blocks.
“Neither one of them in high school knew what it was like to be the man by themselves,” Rice said. “It takes a lot to really share the spotlight. For both of them, it’s really going to pay off in the future in college and beyond college when they could really establish themselves.”
The 6-foot-11-inch Jeter was dominant in the postseason, averaging 23.6 points and 12.4 rebounds.
“From day one of high school to the state championship game, Chase has probably improved more than any player I’ve seen,” Rice said. “He just continued to get better and worked extremely hard at all times and ended his career in a big, big way.”
Gorman ran much of its offense in the postseason through Zimmerman in the high post. And more often than not, it seemed like the 7-footer dumped the ball in to Jeter in the post for an easy bucket.
“We really just tried to put the ball in Zim’s hands and let him make the decision,” Rice said. “In the playoffs it was hitting Chase Jeter in the low post, because Chase had so many mismatches in there.”
With two centers in the lineup, one player had to essentially play out of position most of the time. The versatile Zimmerman spent most of his time in the high post or on the perimeter, allowing Jeter room to work inside. When Jeter and Zimmerman were joined in the lineup by 6-11 junior Zach Collins, Zimmerman actually played small forward.
“(Zimmerman is) a true team player in all regards,” Rice said. “He just sacrificed a lot for the team over his career. Whatever role we needed him to be in in certain games in certain seasons, Zim would take on that role.
“Zim really sacrificed his game for the betterment of the team. He did a lot of those little things, and filled the stat sheet with a lot of different stuff.”
Rice expects both players to be impact players at the next level. Jeter has signed with Duke, while Zimmerman is still undecided as he considers offers from UNLV, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA.
Jeter is extremely young for a senior, and won’t turn 18 until Sept. 19. Rice said Jeter weighs about 230 pounds now, and will put on more muscle as he continues to mature.
“When he gets down low and gets in that stance to post up, it’s hard to push Chase off the block,” Rice said. “Even though he has a thin frame, he’s got some big, strong legs and knows how to use them.”
For Zimmerman, Rice thinks it’s the quick first step and overall skill set that will make him a success in college.
“He’s really going to excel in college because he’s so versatile,” Rice said. “He can post up, but he can also face the basket.
“Both of these guys are going to be extremely successful in college and beyond just because of their work ethic and where they are right now.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters.