In the end, Luke Potnick preferred to compete at the Division I level in college basketball.
As much as anything, that drove the Buffalo Grove standout guard’s decision to join the program at Northern Illinois as a preferred walk-on.
“Division I was always exactly where I thought I would go,” said Potnick. “I think it fits the way I like to compete.”
That competitive nature was obvious to Potnick’s opponents. He was named Mid-Suburban East player of the year after averaging 21.4 points and canning 73 3-pointers while coming up with 3.1 assists per game. Potnick also earned Daily Herald all-area team honors.
Northern Illinois struggled mightily at times last season and finished 5-25 under coach Mark Montgomery, who will be entering his third season next school year. Potnick feels good about the program’s future, though.
“Coach Monty is doing a lot of good things, really trying to change things around,” Potnick said. “I think I can be part of that, in a good way.”
Ryan O’Connor, BG’s longtime coach who recently announced he was taking a step back from coaching, played a key role in helping Potnick arrive at his college destination.
“Me and coach had a great relationship, and he always knew what I wanted to achieve with basketball,” Potnick said. “He knew Division I was pretty much my goal.”
Potnick said it helped that he already had some familiarity with the school, as his older sister attended NIU. He’s interested in a future in physical therapy and has some first-hand experience in the field already after successfully rehabbing following shoulder surgery in his sophomore year.
For the moment, Potnick is enjoying his first spring as a baseball player since the eighth grade. Though an exceptionally cold, wet season has made it tough for everyone, Potnick says he’s enjoyed pitching for the Bison whenever there’s an opportunity.
“It’s like my dad always says, ‘It’s 70 degrees and sunny for every basketball game,’ ” Potnick said. “But I’m having fun with baseball. I think if you’re an athlete, they can tell you five minutes before the game and you’ll be ready to go.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.