Chris Cayton hasn’t been just sitting around waiting for his time to show what he can do. The Skyline junior spent his first two seasons of varsity basketball not only watching star players such as Brandon Wade, Jack Ammerman and Ryan Wade take the Eagles to new heights, but studying them.
Class was in session the moment Cayton stepped on the floor as a freshman. Coach Mike Lovelace and the Skyline coaching staff saw great potential in the ninth-grader and felt that exposing him to greatness would help him develop even if he didn’t play a lot that first season. Going up against the likes of Wade and Ammerman in practice every day was High School Advanced Basketball – and he loved it.
“That freshmen year was all about learning,” Cayton says. “We had the best team in the state and we were undefeated until that Novi game (in a Regional final). It was a great team and a great year. I got to learn from Brandon Wade and Jack and Ryan and they are all playing college basketball now.
“As a sophomore I was still learning and growing but I was getting the minutes,” Cayton said. “We had Ryan Wade and one of my roles was getting him the ball but also looking to score more. This year my role is to score and help run the offense and get the ball into the hot hand.”
That “hot hand” the other night was Cayton. He had a game-high 18 points in Skyline’s recent win over city-rival Pioneer. And as the confidence grows, so do the stats and his impact on the game.
“For me, 90 percent of it is confidence,” he says. “It’s a mental game for me. I need to believe that I can do it.”
Lovelace, who has seen that confidence and ability grow over the past two plus seasons, certainly believes Cayton “can do it.”
“He did a great job those first two years learning as much as he could,” Lovelace said. “He was a sponge in practice and in the games. He might have been a little frustrated because at times he struggled but he never put his head down or sulked. He stayed focused and kept learning and working hard.”
Cayton does an excellent job not only running the offense but taking care of the basketball. The Eagles simply don’t turn the ball over very often when Cayton is on the floor.
“He also gives us a lot of energy and attacks the basket,” Lovelace said. “He plays with aggressiveness, but under control at the same time. He plays both ends of the floor and welcomes the challenge of defending the other team’s best player.”
The Eagles are off to a flying start and they are doing it the team-way this season with a roster full of players all contributing to the cause. Skyline is 7-1 despite having only two seniors and facing a very competitive schedule.
“We are learning how to get better as a team and not just individually,” Cayton said. “We know we might not have the best talent in the state but we know that if we put in the work every day that we can compete with the best teams in the state. We just need to keep working hard.”
One of Skyline’s strengths is that they have multiple players who can hurt you on the offensive end. And on the other end of the floor, they all play solid defense – a Skyline trademark.
“Our team is really unselfish,” Cayton says. “We don’t care who is shooting the ball or who is getting it in a big spot, we just want to win the game. Whoever is hot that game. we get them the ball. And we take a lot of pride in our defense.”
Cayton hopes to follow his former teammates right into college basketball.
“Yeah, that’s the goal,” he says. “I just need to keep working hard and believing in myself.”