A change in scenery made a big difference for Kelton Samore, who moved to a country with a different language and set of cultural values than what he was accustomed to.
His family moved to Mazatlan, a city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, when he was 8. The Samores lived there for three years before moving to Portland, Oregon, their current home.
“My family wanted my sister and I to experience a new culture and learn another language,” Samore said.
The three-star small forward said that’s where his passion for basketball developed immensely.
“Basketball was my time to really get away and enjoy myself,” Samore said.
Above anything, the experience taught him that “you just [have to] work for everything that you get.”
Now, the junior has since developed into a prime college recruit, having already received close to 10 offers, including most recently, Stanford.
Samore described his ideal university as a place where he can “build a great relationship with the coach” and “play in a competitive conference,” as well as a place where he can challenge himself academically.
Academics are important to Samore, who is planning on either studying medicine or business in college.
“It would be nice to go to an academic school, challenge myself both on and off the court,” Samore said.
Basketball was a natural fit for Samore, who started playing around the age of 3. His father, Brian, played overseas in Norway for three years and was the biggest influence on Samore growing up.
“He’s a big reason of where I am today,” Samore said. “He’s taught me so much and he continues to motivate me.”
While his father has had the biggest influence on him, his coaches and teammates over the years have also had an impact on Samore.
“Through different coaches and different players, they each have their own ways to inspire and motivate you, and be supportive,” Samore said.
His current high school coach, Robert Key, is among these people. He speaks highly of Samore’s basketball IQ and leadership qualities.
“My biggest thing I love about him is that he makes other people around him better,” Key said.
The two have developed a strong player-coach relationship since Key was hired three years ago, and before last season, Samore asked Key to be tougher on him during the season.
“I really appreciated him telling me that because my philosophy coming in was building relationships and understanding players mentally and physically,”Key said.
Through communicating with each other, a strong understanding formed between the two.
“We carry three different conversations during the school year and I think it’s worked out tremendously,” Key said.
This relationship will continue to grow as next season approaches. As for next season, Samore has set several goals for himself, both on and off the court.
“[I want to] just try to get in the best shape I possibly can and just be in the gym as much as possible,” Samore said.