SAN ANTONIO — Reagan senior Will Carsten, one of the best two-sport high school athletes in Greater San Antonio, has made his college choice and decided whether he will play basketball or baseball at the next level.
Carsten, a right-handed pitcher and first baseman, will play baseball at McLennan College in Waco. He committed to McLennan last week and plans to sign with the Highlanders next week.
McLennan competes in the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference and Division I of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
Carsten had a scholarship offer to play basketball at Division I Southeast Missouri State, but opted to continue his baseball career in college.
“My thought process in terms of basketball kind of revolved around the whole pandemic deal,” Carsten said. “It really hurt me a little bit not being able to visit any schools that had been talking to me about playing basketball. McLennan offered me to play baseball about a year and a half ago. This whole time, they’ve been sticking with me.
“I did a lot of research on their program. They’ve got great coaches and have a history of developing players. It’s always been a dream of mine to be a professional athlete, and I thought baseball was the best way to go. I’d like to get drafted. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll play baseball at a Division I school.”
Carsten said it was “definitely difficult” to choose between playing baseball or basketball in college.
“What it really came down to was what I truly felt was my future,” he said.
Carsten also had baseball offers from Division I schools Texas State and Wichita State, but he opted to go the junior college route for financial reasons. He committed to Tulane last year but withdrew his pledge in December.
“With the NCAA giving (college) seniors another year of eligibility because of the pandemic, that kind of hurt me in terms of a scholarship and money-wise,” Carsten said. “I figured that I’d rather go to a school that has that money for me than go to a Division I school and have to walk on.”
Carsten went 9-0 and had a 1.63 ERA last year in his first season at Reagan, which advanced to the Class 6A regional semifinals. The Rattlers, who had reached the state tournament three times in the previous six years, were 11-2-3 and ranked No. 1 in the state when their season was ended by the deadly coronavirus in mid-March.
“Obviously, it was disappointing and it hurt,” Carsten said. “A bunch of the seniors had played together for most of their lives. We really felt strongly that we had a good chance (to win state). We all had bought in this season, not that we didn’t buy in or anything like that last season.
“At the end of the day, there are far worse things going on that the season being canceled. The safety of everybody comes before the baseball season. There are things bigger than sports and this is definitely one of them.”
Carsten saw limited time on the mound this year, going 1-0 before the season came to a screeching halt. He also played first base for the Rattlers.
Carsten, 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, played varsity basketball and baseball at TMI as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Reagan heading into his junior year. He played both sports with the Rattlers the last two years.
A post player in basketball, Carsten earned All-Area honors this season after averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds. He led the Rattlers in both categories and made the All-District 27-6A team as a junior and senior.
Carsten’s maternal grandfather is former East Central boys basketball coach Stan Bonewitz, who led the Hornets to the 1995 Class 5A state championship and a 35-0 finish. Bonewitz won 708 games before retiring in 2005.
Bonewitz’s son, Stan, was the leading scorer on the 1994-95 championship team and has been head men’s basketball at Concordia University in Austin for 16 seasons.
When Carsten wasn’t playing summer baseball season last year, his grandfather worked him out on the basketball court.
“It was an experience,” Carsten said. “It was great getting coached by a hall-of-famer. It was great working on my game with him. When my uncle was in town, he’d get with me and give me some tips.”
Stan Bonewitz was enshrined in the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and his son was selected as a member of the Class of 2020. This year’s induction ceremony was canceled because of the pandemic and rescheduled for next February.
The elder Bonewitz was a standout basketball and baseball player at St. Mary’s in the 1960s. He was one of the last athletes at the school to start in both sports.
Carsten’s performance on the basketball court and baseball field have rekindled memories of his grandfather’s athletic career.
“Looking at it as objectively as I can as his grandfather, I’d say Will is pretty much a natural athlete," Bonewitz said. "I’m very cautious about not going over the top, but he has natural ability. I think he has a big upside as a basketball player, but he’s a natural at baseball. He has a natural feel for the game.”