OSCODA – If you were to look for someone that works harder than Oscoda senior Drew Hess; it would certainly prove to be a difficult task. Finding Hess, who is anxiously awaiting his debut season with the Oscoda basketball team can be challenging enough in its own right.
That’s because Hess is constantly working on his craft; even if it means shooting hoops at Ray’s Gym in Oscoda, a venue better known for its workout equipment than its single rim on half of a dimly lit basketball court.
“I am very thankful right now, anything works for me,” Hess said. “It beats shooting outside, that’s for sure.”
Hess says he has worked out 1,184 straight days (as of Dec. 24). That dates back to his freshman year, when he was a breakout star for Mio’s varsity team. His tireless work ethic has certainly paid dividends as he put up massive numbers through his first three seasons for a strong Mio squad. He has scored 1,468 career points, 492 of which were last year. His junior year also saw him grab 87 rebounds, 66 assists, 64 steals and only commit 33 turnovers.
“There are some days I don’t want to work out, but those are the days that it is best for you, because you work even harder,” Hess said. “You just have to keep pushing yourself, even when you are sick. I work as hard as I can to be better than the person next to me; I just don’t like the feeling of people being better than me.”
It is nothing short of remarkable that Hess has been able to keep his workout streak intact, even though he has had to circumnavigate the COVID-19 pandemic and a family move from Mio to Oscoda.
“Over quarantine, it was tough,” Hess said. “In Mio, we had a basement and I would go down there every day and workout and lift for a couple hours. After I was done lifting, doing footwork and dribbling, I would go to the park and shoot for another couple of hours, depending on what the weather was like, if it was warm I would shoot longer. Once it got towards the end of quarantine, gyms were starting to open back up so I would be able to shoot there.”
Since moving to Oscoda, Hess was able to keep his streak going. He took advantage of the fact that Oscoda basketball head coach Mike Poland has an outdoor court, taking part in four person off-season workouts, but once the weather turned too harsh to be outside and the pandemic forced the stoppage of those workouts and most indoor activity, he turned to Ray’s Gym.
“Ray’s was open so I took the opportunity to go there, shoot and lift and get everything I needed to do to get done,” Hess said. “I am doing a lot of catch-and-shoot threes and mid-range jumpers. I’m working on my legs when I lift, I didn’t focus on my legs much during quarantine.”
Hess hit the 1,000-point milestone last winter as a junior. He hit the mark early in the season, playing on a cold December night at Oscoda; in what was a road game for him at the time.
“Owen Franklin (Oscoda teammate) still talks about that a bit, he thinks it was a cool moment to watch but he doesn’t like that it had to be against them,” Hess said. “I don’t really like it either, I don’t know how I feel about it, but I guess I can kind of brag to them about getting my 1,000th on them.”
Hess, along with Brennon Mills, another senior who also transferred from Mio, played major roles on Oscoda’s undefeated football team this fall, and are expected to be key pieces on an Oscoda basketball squad that has rather lofty goals as well.
“I’m really happy that he came here too, he is one of my brothers and he is dedicated as much as I am to do well in everything that he does,” Hess said of Mills. “I think the team is going to have a great season, I am really looking forward to it and praying everything goes right and we can have the season. I feel once our chemistry gets up, our goal is to get to the Breslin Center (Final Four site).
“I like his (varsity head coach Mike Poland) offense, it gives you more freedom and gets more of the team involved,” he added. “I feel like nobody can stop us, our confidence is really high. I am stoked to be here with this team and I’m excited to see where the season goes.”
Oscoda should have had its first practice Nov. 16 and was scheduled to play its first game on Dec. 10. Those never happened as the season has now been twice delayed, thus creating the burning question on everyone’s mind; is there even going to be a high school basketball season this winter? The latest start-up date given by the MHSAA is Jan. 16 for practice, with games following shortly after on Jan. 22; this of course assuming there are no further delays.
“As of right now I am pretty confident that we will have a season,” Hess said. “I have my fingers crossed because this season is really important to me.”
It is important to Hess from a team aspect, just because he knows how much potential the squad has to make a historic run. It is important to him on a personal level because of his post-high school goals. He has long dreamt of playing basketball at the next level, and deep down he knows just how crucial it is to play his final season of high school ball.
“I have worked my whole life to try and get to the next level and this year is going to be really, really important for me to get there,” he said. “I have had college coaches interested in me, but no offers yet, so I have to keep working hard to get there.”
In a time of uncertainty, at least one thing is a given; Drew Hess is going to be working out today. He’ll be somewhere, working on his game; perfecting his footwork; running ball-handling drills; lifting weights; and of course drilling shot-after-shot.
“As long as I am able to do my workouts and do what I need to do, I honestly don’t see myself taking any days off,” Hess said. “I’m just going to keep pushing myself until I can’t do it anymore.”