Grant Prible has been one of the best players in the ACAC for years – a two-time all-conference selection and team MVP, he averaged 13.5 points per game last season – but Bluffton coach Kevin Leising would like him to be even better this season.
He wants there to be a wow factor when people see what Prible does on the court.
"I want someone like you to come to one of our games and say, ‘Wow, that guy is dominating the game,’ " said Leising, whose Tigers were 13-10 last season with a 4-3 conference record.
The belief is that Prible can play at the college level based on what he’s accomplished already. But there’s potential for him to do so much better this season.
"I think he needs to do all the things he’s done in the past, but now at about two notches up," Leising said. "In my opinion, instead of somewhat dominating a guy defensively, he now needs to totally shut him down."
Prible, a senior, is a multifaceted point guard who averaged six rebounds and four assists per game last season.
"He was our second-leading rebounder last year and our leading rebounder as a sophomore, and instead of getting six rebounds a game, let’s get seven or eight or get those big-time rebounds now," Leising said.
"We don’t have that big guy to go and get the ball off the glass. If your point guard comes in from the top, he’s rebounding against another point guard and can pull down those types of numbers."
The Tigers have a talented roster that includes Aaron Sturgeon, who averaged 9.4 points last season, Collin Barker and Dakota Cole. There’s also Garrett Walborn, Philip Pearson and Mitchell Kuhlenbeck, all expected to contribute more this season.
But the 6-foot Prible is the focal point and everyone knows it.
"I am excited about this season," he said. "We lost three seniors (Kevin Moser, Josh Moriarty and Javon Johnson) but brought a lot back, and I’m excited about what we can do this year."
Knowing that he will draw a lot of attention from opposing defenders, Prible worked on strength and conditioning in the offseason.
"I definitely worked on my shooting and my strength," he said. "When I drive to the basket, shoving and things like that go on, and I wanted to be able to take that sort of punishment better."
It did seem like the Tigers wore down a bit last season, losing six of their final eight games, including a 61-56 season-ending loss to Canterbury in the first round of sectionals.
Prible wants to take more of a leadership role this season to keep his teammates mentally in tune on the court.
"I’ve got to tell my players where to go – that’s part of my role – and if somebody does something wrong, then I need to step up and let them know," he said. "That’s a big part of being a leader."