MOUND CITY, Mo. — Mound City boys’ basketball coach Ryan Osburn said it took a long time to see his son, Tony, achieve his dreams.
“If you could have been along the journey, it’s literally been since he was probably two, three years old,” Ryan Osburn said. “He loved basketball, and we just tried to give him every opportunity to excel in it, and I think he embraced that.”
Tony, the Panthers’ standout senior guard, finally put pen to paper on Wednesday, signing to continue his basketball career in Division I Nebraska-Omaha.
“Just knowing it’s really sold out now is just a dream come true,” Tony Osburn said. “It’s something a lot of kids dream about, and it’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was little, so it really means a lot.”
Ryan said it was around the time Tony was in fifth or sixth grade that he realized his son could have the potential to play at the DI level.
“We started going to Kansas City a lot, and he could compete with some big name players,” Ryan Osburn said. “I thought if he kept working he would have a chance of it happening like it happened today.”
Ryan said it was his son’s work ethic that got him to this point.
“We stayed in (the gym) one day, he must have been eight, and he had to do so many shots in a row or we couldn’t leave, and we had been here a long time,” Ryan told Osburn. “(Tony has) a work ethic the likes of which I haven’t seen as a coach in 22 years.”
The hard work started to come to fruition in the spring, when Tony led Mound City to a Class 1 runners-up in March. It was the Panthers’ first trip to the state championship game since winning the state title in 1981.
Tony said he started getting calls from college coaches after the team’s run in the state tournament, and Nebraska-Omaha was the first to make an offer.
“It felt like home, it’s not far away and the staff really believed in me,” said Tony Osburn. “I really think it’s the right choice.”
Ryan said as a parent, it’s been great having his son stay close to home.
“I just think the proximity to Omaha, it felt like a small town when we were there, and he has friends on the team,” Ryan Osburn said, “so I think that’s a good choice for him.”
Ryan has been coaching his son since Tony was in third grade. At the start of their final season together, Tony said it was great to have his dad coaching for so long.
“We bump into each other from time to time,” Tony Osburn said, “but he really believes in me, so that’s important too, and I’m just super excited for this year.”
Before leaving for Omaha, Tony said there was still unfinished business with his father and his teammates at Mound City – winning a state title.
“We haven’t won a state championship,” Tony Osburn said, “and I think that’s a big part for good players is winning a state championship, so that’s a big goal.”
The Panthers will open their season on Tuesday, Nov. 23 against Stanberry.