Six months ago, he was an unknown prospect waiting for the world to recognize his talent.
Today, he’s at the top of virtually every high-major basketball coach’s shortlist of players to watch this summer.
His name is Kaden Archie, and in the last two months alone, he’s drawn eight scholarship offers from various Power 5 programs, including Texas, Florida, Purdue and LSU. The boost in high-major interest came after he put on a display of his athletic prowess and versatility on both ends of the floor at the adidas Uprising Gauntlet Series.
The 6’6 wing said he feels the recent uptick in interest he’s received is warranted after the time and effort he’s put into his training.
“It’s definitely a blessing,” Archie said. “This is the type of moment that I pray for and work for. It didn’t come easy and it definitely didn’t come overnight. I’m just grateful now and trying to enjoy the whole thing.”
The scholarship offers were quickly proceeded by recognition from multiple sports media publications, including Ball Is Life and Scout.com. Naturally, social media outlets Twitter and Instagram swarmed with praise of the high-flying perimeter threat.
The incipient surge in Archie’s stock has been the product of years of dedication, and the 2018 prospect emphasized the work ethic needed to gain the national attention he’s getting.
“People don’t really understand, they think I just get offers and all the social media hype and all that,” he said. “But they really don’t see the work that goes on behind the scenes.”
Some of that extra work involved hitting the gym when Archie’s peers were resting. After the conclusion of the U.I.L. season – a time most high school basketball players take a break from hoops – the Virginia native would dedicate hours of his day turning the weaker aspects of his game into strengths.
“I can remember, after high school basketball season, people telling me, ‘You need to take a break,’ but I didn’t,” he said. “I was in the gym two times a day. I just wasn’t satisfied with where I was. I feel like I was underrated and I feel like I’m one of the best in the country, so I just have to keep putting in the work to get there.”
In his corner
There were times between surplus three-point shooting practice and ball-handling drills when Archie felt discouraged at the lack of recognition he was getting at the national level. He was certain his abilities were high-major caliber, but his efforts simply weren’t materializing into scholarship offers.
“I definitely had my doubts,” Archie said. “It was definitely some times where I felt down on myself and I just wondered like, all this pain and work that I was putting myself through, was it worth it? But my parents and my sister and my high school coach, my two trainers, Coach Rod and Coach Headache, they stayed in my ear. They believed in me more than I did sometimes. Knowing that I had good people in my corner just pushed me and kept me encouraged.”
Archie’s dad, a former free safety at Texas Southern, recognized the extensive potential in his son around eighth grade and helped Archie to seriously focus on in his future in the sport.
Archie’s mom had a feeling he’d be a special talent long before then.
“My mom tells me this story all the time,” he said. “We were in Virginia, and we were in the house, and we had the Little Tikes goal, and she said she saw me take a running start and just went up and dunked it. And from that moment, she knew I was going to hoop.”
There’s another individual in the Archie family that’s believed in Kaden from the start. His sister, a former track athlete in high school and UT-Arlington graduate, is a person Archie looks to for support.
“If I need anything, if I can’t reach my parents, she’s the first one I call,” he said. “She’s more of like my best friend than my sister sometimes, I just love her to death.”
Originally from Woodbridge, VA, just 20 miles south of Washington, DC, Archie grew up a fan of Gilbert Arenas. For those who don’t remember, he was the guy that made the Washington Wizards interesting for half a decade in the 2000s:
Archie wears the number zero on his jersey just like Arenas, and has the former All-Star’s nickname, “Agent Zero,” listed as his Twitter name.
“That’s something people don’t really know about me,” Archie said. “Gilbert Arenas, he’s one of my favorite players of all time. I never been one to follow crowds. Everyone’s favorite players are Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe, and LeBron. I always liked to be different. My favorite players are Paul George, Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady, Scottie Pippen, Kawhi Leonard. Those are the people I really look up to.”
Though not as popular as Jordan or Magic, Archie’s favorite players are a coach’s dream team, particularly in the modern game of basketball. The sport has trended more positionless in recent years and caters to players who can guard anyone on the floor.
“The guys that I look up to, they’re all great defensive, two-way players,” he said. “I’m not always just focused on being a great offensive player, I want to be a great defensive player, as well. I think my versatility really sets me apart.”
Against some of the country’s best competition at the adidas Uprising Gauntlet Series, Archie has averaged two steals to go with his 17 points, four rebounds and three assists per game. Though he’s finally receiving the recognition he’s sought, don’t expect the budding star to settle into complacency.
“I’m working, putting hours and hours in the gym and it’s finally paying off,” he said. “So hopefully I can just continue to prove myself, and stay on that right path, and continue to get better. I never want to be satisfied with where I’m at.”