One of the most highly recruited prep basketball players in Pueblo history has opted to forgo his senior season at Pueblo Central High School to play at a prep school.
Kadyn Betts, a first-team Class 4A all-Colorado High School Activities Association selection as a junior, has been a three-year starter at Pueblo Central.
This past season, the 6-foot-8 center led the Wildcats to the Class 4A Final Four, where they were beaten by eventual state champion Lewis-Palmer. Pueblo Central finished 23-4 overall and was second in the South-Central League with an 8-2 record behind 4A state runner-up Pueblo South.
Betts, 17, told The Chieftain that he has decided to attend Huntington Prep in Huntington, West Virginia to complete his high school career. Huntington Prep is a basketball-focused college preparatory school founded in 2009.
"To get ready for college and to play at that college level," Betts said of his decision. "To develop and get my skills ready for the college level and play against players at a higher level. When you go to a play at a prep school, you play against some of the top-100 kids in the nation."
Asked what he would say to his friends and fans who won't get to see him play in Pueblo and Colorado next season, Betts responded: "Tell them to wait a year and they can watch me on ESPN."
So far, Betts has received offers from Colorado State, Wyoming, Northern Colorado, Minnesota, Akron and Nebraska. He's also received interest from Iowa, Iowa State, Butler, Rice, Penn State, Clemson and Virginia Tech, among others.
The possibility remains that Betts could take another route, but at this point, he's set on attending Huntington.
A family decision
The Betts family, all of whom attended Pueblo Central, has collectively made the tough decision with Kadyn to forgo his senior season to attend the prep school.
"Right now he's set to go to the prep school," said Kadyn's father, Kevin Betts. "Things with that could change because he has more visits to other schools. We're just taking it day by day."
Kevin explained the reasons behind opting for prep school.
"Kadyn will play Division I basketball," he said. "If he stays here (at Central), will he get any better? That's not a knock on the teams and players he'll play against.
"The prep school team is full of kids who are going to play Division I basketball, kids craving to be in the gym every moment. Plus, he'll get to play with and against players at the same level. He's got a better chance of getting hurt playing against lower-level competition.
"He'll also be able to get more prepared for the college game. He won't get better if he stays here and plays here. If we don't do this, we might always be asking, 'What if?'"
Kadyn acknowledged that his family has influenced his decision to play at a prep school.
"I listen to what they say and they think," he said. "They are worried about me going to Huntington because it will be away from home, but it's another way to prepare myself for college. My mom is sad to see me go."
Following in family's footsteps
The Betts family has had huge success on the basketball court.
Kevin Betts was a standout player at Pueblo Central and went on to play at Otero Junior College and San Diego State.
Kobi Betts, Kadyn's older brother, also had a stellar high school career at Pueblo Central and went on play at the United States Air Force Academy and the Colorado School of Mines.
Kevin Betts chose a different path to Division I basketball; he played at Otero Junior College in La Junta for a season before tearing his Achilles his sophomore year.
He was recruited by the University of Nevada-Reno, but when that didn't work out he went on to play at San Diego State University, where he had a stellar career.
"It was just the luck of the draw," Kevin said. "I had signed to go to Nevada-Reno and after the injury, their plans changed and they told me I wasn't the same kind of player.
"One of the assistants at Nevada-Reno was a buddy of the San Diego State coach, and that's where I ended up. It all worked out as I had a good career. I started all but one game (a senior night game as a junior) during my career."
Kadyn says his father inspires him to get to the next level.
"He gives me hope knowing that I could be another Pueblo kid to play big-time Division I basketball," Kadyn said. "He gives me inspiration."
Kobi had a serious knee injury before his senior season but still went to Air Force, ended up at Colorado Mines and had a productive career.
Kobi has a different perspective about advising his younger brother.
"I try to always play the devil's advocate role with him and give him the worst-case scenario," Kobi said. "I told him this whole time to keep following his heart, chase that dream he's chasing. All we can do is throw him those 'what ifs?' Ultimately (I've told him) it's what you can make with whatever situation you can put yourself in."
Kobi said his brother has an impeccable drive to be great that will lead to results.
"His work ethic and drive have put him in this position," Kobi said. "He's a special kid with natural gifts and abilities, and he's wise beyond his years. He's unshakable ... whether it's his work ethic or things off the court.
"There are kids everywhere with potential and physical ability and he has that mental piece and seems to have that on lockdown. As long as he can stay level-headed and keep the main goal in the forefront, that will keep him grounded."
Recruiting process 'a whirlwind'
Ever since Kadyn entered high school, colleges and universities have tracked his progress but recruiting ramped up to a fever pitch this past year.
"Kadyn can't even get in the car without getting calls from schools," Kevin said. "It's been crazy what this kid is going through. It's been a whirlwind.
"My wife, Brook, and all of our families went to Central. It'll be tough waiting to see what happens. He's stressed because someone is calling at all times."
While the recruiting process is enjoyable for the most part, Kadyn says he's taking it in stride.
"It's crazy," he said. "When I go out to dinner I have to leave to take a phone call. I've received well over 100 texts, emails, and phone calls over the past six months.
"It's super stressful, but at the end of the day, I know how blessed I am, knowing not everyone is in my situation. It's a great situation to be in."
Central coach OK with the decision
Bob Tyler, who has been the coach at Central since Kadyn arrived, first as an assistant and now as head coach, understands if his star player needs to leave.
"I'm excited for Kadyn," Tyler said. "I have a selfish point of view because I want him to play for us. But he's going to another level, an extremely high level where he can do some great things.
"Don't feel sorry for Pueblo Central. Our kids are working hard this summer, and we'll be just fine."
The loss of Betts leaves a big hole in the program, but Tyler and his players are moving on.
"It leaves us with two seniors," Tyler said. "We have a talented group of kids who are young but are working hard. The other thing we'll miss from Kadyn is his leadership. He was the class president and was in the gym so much that he knew the custodians by name.
"When you are coaching, you don't think anything like this is going to happen when your big man disappears."
Nevertheless, Tyler wishes Betts the very best.
"These days with social media and the computer, we'll be able to watch every game he plays on the prep network," he said. "We'll be cheering for him."
Big things await after stellar junior season
Betts had a huge junior season. He was a double-double machine, averaging 22.7 points and 12.3 rebounds a game. He was the 10th leading scorer in all of Colorado and the 13th-best rebounder.
Additionally, he was first in the state in double-doubles with 22 and seventh in the state in blocked shots with a 3.6 average.
Betts man in the middle for Wildcats: Pueblo Central's Kadyn Betts is the man in the middle for his basketball team and school
Playing with Pluto Prospects
Betts has been playing this spring and summer with Pluto Prospects, a travel-ball team that has played in tournaments in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Kansas City, Dallas, and Oklahoma.
Pluto Prospects is based out of Colorado Springs and includes a roster of all Colorado players.
Betts joins Austin brothers on 4A all-state team: South's Austin brothers, Central's Betts named 4A first-team all-state in boys basketball
"We played in five or six out-of-state tournaments in the spring and have four more in July," Kadyn said. "We're doing well. We played in some of the best tournaments in the country against high-major commits.
"It's making me better. It's a different speed, more of a college speed. Plus it's more competition, like when you are going against the number. 5 or 6 rated kids in the country."
Chieftain senior sports reporter Jeff Letofsky can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @jeffletofsky
This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Top-notch recruit Kadyn Betts leaving Pueblo Central for prep school