Triumphant trio

From young basketball stars to college prospects, these few SHS players have started to shine

In their second full season together, the SHS Cards’s big three is finally clicking. A six game win streak for the Cards in the middle of the season has shown that juniors Nickens Lemba, Keyon Miller and A.J. Dancler have become the stars everyone thought they would be.
“I’m hard on them,” head coach Eric Brand said. “I expect more of them. I’m always going to be one that says they can do more both in practice and in games… Are they a finished product, no, they are working hard and they are leading in the best way they can know.”
The offseason for these three players is a little more personal than the regular season. Miller and Dancler both say a lot of work goes into their offseason training days.
“During the offseason, it’s a lot of weightlifting and basketball, it’s probably two times a day basketball and one time a day weightlifting,” Miller said.
The trio might have met each other a while ago, but they have just recently started to connect on the court. The three of them have come a long way since they all came to SHS during their freshman year.
According to Miller, he and Dancler didn’t like each other starting in elementary school because it was always competitive when they played basketball. However, the two had grown closer together by the time they made their way to SHS.
“We got cool coming into our freshman year,” Miller said. “At summer workouts we bonded on the court and off the court.”
They know that it doesn’t only need to be on the court where they connect. They are constantly having fun off the court in order to continuously grow as players and gain chemistry.
“We hangout,” Dancler said. “We’ll go to each other’s houses before games. We will go out to eat a lot.”
Dancler believes these connections off the court allow them to play better together when the clock starts.
“We have a lot of fun with each other,” Dancler said. “It doesn’t always need to be serious.”
Since their freshmen year, Miller, Dancler and Lemba have grown not only as people but also as basketball players. They are on pace to win the most games together that they have as a group compared to the past two seasons. They already have more wins this year than they had all of last year.
This year, Lemba is averaging 2.5 blocks per game and just under seven rebounds, giving the Cards a boost on the defensive end of the court. Miller is averaging 12.2 points per game and 3.5 assists per game alongside Dancer’s 16.3 points per game and 2.2 assists per game.
“I think there has been lots of growth in lots of different ways,” Brand said. “One is just their physical body strength, they are working harder in the weight room.”
The big three have already had a couple of college offers. Lemba has received offers from IUPUI and also has other Division I schools who have shown some interest in him. Dancler has Division I offers from three schools: Ball State, Kent State and Northern Illinois. Miller doesn’t have any offers yet but has received interest from Purdue Fort Wayne.
“I have an offer from IUPUI,” Lemba said. “I have a lot of interest but no (other) offers because they have to come see me play again.”
The biggest schools that have shown interest in Lemba are Purdue, Xavier, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.
Brand and the SHS coaching staff have worked to get these players ready to take the next step in their basketball careers. Brand says they often hold them to a higher standard throughout the season to help them reach their potential.
“We have been doing a lot more with them and putting them in situations and holding them to higher accountability,” Brand said. “The whole thing is trying to prepare them for the next level.”