Tiger all-stater going to William Woods.
Jack Mueller displayed with the St. James High School boys' basketball team that he can be an effective player both inside and on the perimeter.
He may get the chance to do both in college.
Last week Mueller, a 6-7 all-state forward for the Tigers this past season, signed to attend and play basketball at William Woods University, an NAIA program located in Fulton, Mo.
Prior to choosing William Woods, Mueller also considered other small schools, including Columbia College, Fontbonne University, Greenville (Ill.), Evangel and Webster.
"I like their coach a lot," Mueller said of William Woods head coach Nick Totta. "It seems like their coaches made an appearance at about every game I played last season. And I like their players – they made me feel at home. And I like their campus."
Mueller said he will likely major in criminal justice at William Woods.
A three-time all-conference player, Mueller had been a standout for the St. James Tigers for a while. However, he had a breakout season as a senior, during which he averaged 16.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.1 blocks while earning unanimous Four Rivers Conference honors. He proved to be the best passing big man in the area.
He was the leader of a St. James squad which finished 24-4 and was ranked No. 9 in the final Missouri Class 3 regular-season poll. St. James lost to Fatima in the district semifinals, as Mueller played while coming back from a severe ankle sprain which sidelined him for several games at the end of the campaign.
"I think it's going to be a great fit," said St. James head coach Ben Smith of Mueller signing with William Woods. "I was really impressed with the William Woods staff. After the Potosi Tournament I think they were watching Jack at every game.
"I think it will also be a good academic fit for him. It's small, like a high school astrosphere. And it means something to him to be successful."
And Smith feels Mueller has the ability to be something special on the court for the William Woods Owls.
"I feel he's as good a player as I've seen at St. James in 25 years," said Smith, himself a former standout player at St. James. "He's definitely a unique talent. So much of what he did people didn't always see. And probably the biggest improvement was his leadership; it was just outstanding.
"And he kind of made me change some stuff. I was not a big fan of blocking shots. But with him, he was a weapon with it."
Totta, who is trying to rebuild from a 13-17 season in 2012-13, sees Mueller as a small forward and at times power forward, making contributions both as a three-point shooter as well as being an inside presence.
"I think he'll be a three or a stretch four," Totta said. "He'll shoot the three a little; that's something he's got to get more comfortable with. My hope is that he can guard an inside player, but bring that inside player out on the perimeter."
"I like playing the perimeter for a number of reasons," Mueller said. "I like to take that pull-up jumper."
"For a player his size his versatility is very good," Totta added. "He has some skills kids his size don't normally possess. And he has good lift. We feel like one area where we can help him is the fact we have a full-time conditioning coach."
Mueller knows he must gain strength at the next level.
"I need to keep hitting the weights hard," he said. "And I will work on my ball handling and work on speed drills. But strength is the big one, and they have a great weightlifting program there.
"Coming into my (high school) senior year I was in the weight room every day. Coach Smith made me the player I am."