Former Sandburg star returns to basketball with stint at SCC
Sandburg graduate Nick Lehnerer doesn’t play much basketball for South Suburban College.
But the fact he’s on a team at all is a step in the right direction.
He’s back, one might say, in the Nick of time.
Close to two years ago, the Eagles senior popped in a career-high 27 points in a 68-57 win over Lincoln-Way East in a Southwest Suburban Conference battle. He had high hopes of finishing the season on a high note and pick up some college notice.
It didn’t work out that way.
Colleges weren’t knocking on his door.
So last year at this time, he was out of the sport — a sport that he loved and played almost all his life. He played travel and AAU ball his final two seasons and he developed into a deadly 3-point shooter.
He attended Illinois State University as a student and thought his hoops career was over.
But he said family matters brought him home and he changed his outlook on a few things — including basketball.
Soon, the 6-foot-1 guard looked into the situation at South Suburban College in South Holland and is a walk-on at the two-year national powerhouse. He’s averaging less than two minutes a game and averaging 2.1 points per contest but he’s not complaining.
“I get fired up every game,” he said. “You never know when you get your opportunity. You have to be ready to play.”
He hopes to get some time in at 3 p.m. Sunday when SSC, ranked third in the nation among Division II schools by the National Junior College Athletic Association, hosts the No. 1 team — Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.
The Bulldogs opened the season winning 12 of their first 14 contests and in early December were ranked No. 1 but fell after a couple of setbacks. They are hoping to climb back on top.
Thornton guard Antonio Levy is averaging 19.6 points per game to lead the Bulldogs while four other players average 12.
One of the reasons that Lehnerer picked the school was because of the recent success the Bulldogs have enjoyed. They were 205-41 under coach John Pigatti in the past seven seasons and finished third in the nation in 2011-12. Last year, the team finished 33-4. The team entered the season with a 105-5 record at home under Pigatti.
Pigatti said Lehnerer should develop into a scholarship player next year. Lehnerer said he is taking this shot and hoping to parlay it into an opportunity to play for a four-year school.