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Blood clots almost curtailed Sanders’ basketball career

POSTED December 9, 2010 11:13 p.m.
Mack McClure Great Bend Tribune/

Storm Sanders has been the emotional leader for...

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Barton Community College point guard Storm Sanders grew up idolizing NBA superstar LeBron James, watching him soar to unprecedented heights as a high school legend at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.
Sanders attended Glen Oak High School in Canton, Ohio, the home of the National Football Hall of Fame and a 30-minute drive from Akron.
But this story is about a basketball player who almost didn’t get a chance.
Sanders winding up in Great Bend to play for Craig Fletchall’s Cougars can be attributed to an AAU coach named Brian Bachman.
“I’ve had a couple kids from Ohio before and (Bachman) called me,” Fletchall said, “and he’s really close to Storm and he said take a look at this kid because he’s off the radar.
“So we brought him in for a visit and we liked him and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Sanders was a third-team all-state player during his junior campaign, averaging 16 points and seven points per game. He entertained high hopes of landing a college scholarship entering his senior campaign, but he suffered an injury to the meniscus in a knee.
While he was on the mend, Sanders developed blood clots from inactivity.
It almost cost him his dream of playing basketball, and almost his life.
But Sanders finally returned to the hardwood for the final five games of his senior campaign, averaging 32 points during that stretch, including a 38-point scoring explosion where he set a school record by making 10 straight 3-pointers.
When it came time to getting some college offers, there were none.
Some recruiters, they say, thought the blood clots might resurface.
Enter Fletchall.
“I have a good relationship with Coach Bachman and we did some research and obviously, he had some hype,” Fletchall said. “He played in a heckuva high school program, and it’s tough to disqualify a kid because of an injury in his senior year.
“When he came in on his visit, he seemed like a kid that was going to overcome the odds and play with a chip on his shoulder and I think that’s what he’s done for us.”
Sanders has modest numbers for the Cougars, who enter the Christmas holiday break with an 11-2 record. He is averaging 9.6 points and ranks fourth on the team in assists with 39.
Like his BCC teammates, he has been an unselfish contributor and has committed only 23 turnovers despite having a load of the ball-handling duties. He is also a deadly free-throw shooter, knocking down 28 of 34 foul shots to lead the regulars at 82.4 percent.
 Fletchall calls Sanders the team’s “emotional leader.”
It all goes back to preparation, something  Sanders has instilled in his daily regimen during the first semester at Barton inside Kirkman Athletic Center.
 “I actually have a pregame that I tend to before every game,” Sanders said. “In the auxiliary gym (at BCC), I get a nice stretch in before the game and I try to get in at least 200 shots before the game.
“I get a lot of free throws in there, too. I hate missing free throws, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves. I just try to get focused and get prepared.”
Landing at Barton has given Sanders a new lease on life.
 “There’s no question,” Fletchall said. “I think sometimes the stuff someone goes through in junior college, it kind of keeps things in perspective.
“He had to go through more than the average true freshman has had to go through in fighting through adversity.”

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