Kit Carson boys basketball's Jayden McCombs-Farmer let his play do the talking

(Ty Lin Williams/Kiowa County Independent)

It's not uncommon to see staggering numbers associated with any of the state's players of the year. But Kit Carson's Jayden McCombs-Farmer isn't like the others.

His numbers don't jump off a stat sheet. He averages just 12.4 points per game. He throws in about six rebounds, three assists and two steals. The numbers are good, but not great.

One glimpse at McCombs-Farmer when he's on the floor tells a different story, however. Make no mistake, the kid is great as was a big reason for the Wildcats 22-1 record in the 2019-20 season.

A naturally gifted athlete, he can almost jump out of the gym even if his numbers don't jump off the page. It wasn't a secret that he was the engine behind Kit Carson and it's why coaches selected him as the Class 1A boys basketball Player of the Year.

"I've always been taught to be respectful of opposing players before anything," McCombs-Farmer said. "That's what I want to be represented as is respectful to anyone. And this year, especially, I wanted to be a team player because in past years I'd let numbers get into my head."

It helped that a couple of his teammates were his brothers, Cordell and Sullivan - or "Sonny" as he's known to his teammates.

It was at the Wildcats' state tournament game against Ouray when Jayden went down with an ankle injury that coach Damon Dechant knew his team would be okay because Sonny carried every bit as much emotional energy as Jayden.

"Those two had really been our on the court leaders," Dechant said. "There were a lot of games where Jayden had played 32 minutes and Sonny was right there with him."

It was a bond that Jayden was forever thankful for and with the season now concluded, he can look back at that state tournament game with fondness for the rest of his life.

"I'm glad I got to play one state tournament game with him," Jayden said. "It was awesome."

Those two were a big reason the Wildcats advanced to the Bank of Colorado Arena. But it was clear from the start when the ball was in play, Jayden was the leader of the team and if any opponent had any chance of getting a win, they would have to find a way to slow him down.

That's no easy task considering he approaches every practice and each game like it's a job. He punches that clock and he's ready to get his hands dirty.

"This is the hardest working basketball group that I've ever been around," Dechant said. "That includes teams that I've played or been around in high school, college or coaching. No team every worked this hard and Jayden was the leader of that. It would be hard for you to point out another kid who worked as hard as he did."

If there is one stat that might give some insight into his overall work ethic, ability and toughness it might be his rebounding.

Jayden has all the makings of a terrific athlete, but stands just 5-foot-8. But he averaged 6.6 rebounds per game and grabbed more than 10 on four different occasions. That includes a 68-53 win over Granada where he scored 25 points and hauled in 17 a staggering 17 rebounds.

"There are a few games there year where he almost had 20 rebounds," Dechant said. "Him being the leading rebounder on our team shows he's smart and he's going to play his (tail) off. And he's very tough."

In an analytical world, it has become all too easy to identify points, rebounds, assists and other stats as reasons to hand out annual awards.

Jayden McCombs-Farmer is an exception to that rule. His numbers, while very good, weren't gaudy by any means. But that didn't matter. He let his play on the floor do the talking for him. And everyone seemed to notice.