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NEW CHICAGO — It's a classic Indiana high school basketball story.

A father loves a pro player and names his son after the guy scoring points on the television. Then, dad puts a ball in the kid's hands at a young age and the lad dribbles the ball into his future hoping to make a name for himself.

David Higgins named his son Jordan, in honor of Bulls star Michael Jordan, many years ago. He gave him a hoop at the age of 3. Hanging nets and dropping dimes have been happening ever since.

But this is where you hear the brakes screeching outside Bill Logan Gymnasium.

"Michael isn't my favorite player, he's No. 2," River Forest junior Jordan Higgins said after Wednesday's practice. "I'm a LeBron (James) guy. I think he's the greatest who's ever played."

Whether the Ingots are led by Jordan Higgins or LeBron Higgins doesn't matter. The 6-foot junior point guard would make both legends happy.

Higgins is averaging 28.2 points per game this season, which leads the Region and is third in the state of Indiana. He is 21 points short of 1,000 career points and he hopes to surpass that mark Saturday night at Calumet.

"It's been a goal of mine, especially to do it my junior year," Higgins said. "It will mean a lot when I do it."

Higgins grew up on the West Side of Gary, playing Biddy Basketball and school ball at several schools. He chose to attend River Forest and it's open enrollment policy and it has worked for him.

He averaged 13 points per game as a freshman for the Ingots, 18.2 as a sophomore, but he knew he needed to improve.

So like Jordan and James, Higgins took a ton of shots over the summer when no one was watching, which is how good usually becomes great.

He scored a career-high 43 against Clark earlier this season.

"He's a sensational player, the best point guard in the state," River Forest coach Derrick Milenkoff said. "The confidence he plays with is superb. He believes he's the best. Whenever he plays another team he believes he's the best player on the court.

"He has a great mental toughness. He plays with a chip on his shoulder."

Higgins didn't smile when his coach said that. He just stared into the distance with a steely resolve.

When asked why No. 5 shoots so well with a monstrous chip on his shoulder, he smiled. Sort of.

"Because I have a lot of stuff yet to do," Higgins said.

River Forest's all-time leading scorer is Joe Hershman. The 1977 grad scored 1,856 career points, which led the Region until Andrean's Shane Power scored 2,110.

Higgins would need to average about 35 per game to pass Hershman.

"But he can do it," Milenkoff said. "I know that he can."

Higgins hopes he has a chance to make the Indiana Junior All-Star team this coming summer, but that is outside his control. First things first, the Ingots (8-3, 3-1 GSSC) are still alive in the conference race.

They will need some help with someone knocking off Hanover Central, but believe it is possible.

Then, River Forest plans to get back to its third straight sectional championship game, and win this time.

But with Andrean (7-2), Bishop Noll (5-7), Lake Station (7-4) and an improving Roosevelt team in the Class 2A field, it won't be easy.

In the postseason, that's where players truly make a name for themselves.

"We want to win it this time," Higgins said. "I believe we can do it."


Sports reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.