ELMHURST – Connor VanderBrug stood tall in many ways for Timothy Christian this season.
Not only did the 6-foot-6 senior play every position at some point during the season, but he was a positive role model for the program and the school.
The best story about VanderBrug, one that coach Jack LeGrand was excited to tell, is that he once signed a wristband and gave it to a younger Timothy Christian student.
“One thing cool about Timothy basketball being a campus that’s preschool through 12th grade is a lot of times our younger kids look up to the older kids,” LeGrand said. “Connor also looks up to the younger kids. He really is a great role model.”
The younger kid, Ben VanderWal, was a big fan of VanderBrug and the team. VanderBrug still was surprised by how much of an impact that little gesture had on VanderWal.
“He just loves being in our basketball camp that we run,” VanderBrug said. “He’s a basketball fanatic. He came to every game almost and saw me play as much as possible. His mom would always tell me stories of how [VanderWal would say], ‘Oh my goodness he knows my name.’ It was just cool to give him something to remember me by.”
VanderBrug gave the Timothy program plenty to remember. He was the Metro Suburban Conference MVP this season and finished his career with 1,247 points. In his last four regular season games he scored 37, 37, 31 and 38 points.
Earlier in his career he was a strong 6-foot-6 interior player. He’s a long way from that now.
This season, VanderBrug could be any of a number different types of players. He could be a passing forward that his teammates would play off of, he could be a shooter that his team would run plays to get open shots for, he could be the primary ballhandler and he could still be the post player.
The evolution of his game, which included occasional point guard duties once the team’s starter went down around the New Year, surprised even VanderBrug.
“Sophomore year I don’t think [playing point guard] would have crossed my mind,” VanderBrug said. “I actually loved playing point guard. I know at the college level I’m kind of in between guard and big man so I like to have experience playing every role out there and I think that was good for me.”
VanderBrug will play at Calvin College, a Division III program in Grand Rapids, Mich., that multiple members of his family have attended. To the surprise of LeGrand, no Division I offers ever came despite his all-around game and size.
“He was a problem for people because he’s so versatile,” LeGrand said. “We put him at every position. He stepped up to the challenge. Connor is one of the best players we’ve had. He’s one of the best Timothy has had in a while.
“It’s one of those neat stories that good things happen to good people.”
Connor VanderBrug averages
3-point shooting: 38 percent