CROWN POINT | Clint Swan spent a lot of time at St. Mary's school in Crown Point two years ago.
He had a vested interest at the Catholic middle school in the community where he is the head basketball coach. The vested interest was a tall kid with a ton of basketball upside named Nick Jeffirs.
"We were relieved when Nick showed up at Crown Point," said Swan, knowing that Andrean was also vying for Jeffirs' services. "We wanted him to know he was a big part of our plans."
While watching a CYO game inside St. Mary's, C.P. assistant coach Brian Elston leaned over and told Swan, "He's going to play varsity for us next year."
And Jeffirs did, until Christmas, when he contracted mononucleosis.
"That was really tough, right in the middle of the season," Jeffirs said. "But my teammates were there for me. The coaches were there for me. I couldn't have asked for more from any of them."
Last week Jeffirs had a breakout 64 minutes of high school ball. First, in a 75-44 win over Griffith, he had a career-high 21 points against the Panthers. Then, on Friday, he scored 14 first-half points against Times No. 2 Merrillville.
Jeffirs led his team with 20 points and seven rebounds in a tough loss.
Jeffirs is 6-foot-6 and wears a size 17 shoe. His father is only 6-foot tall. Neither parent ever played basketball.
"I have no idea where my height came from," Jeffirs said.
Crown Point is extremely young and talented, although the 'Dogs have yet to have a breakout stretch to the season. The fact that their Super Soph just played big in a packed gymnasium might be a harbinger of good things ahead.
"Nick proved (against Merrillville) he was ready to play in a big game on a big stage against a very good team," Swan said. "Every time he caught the ball he was in a position to score. Our guards did a great job feeding him in that game."
The last year and a half Jeffirs has shown a strong dislike when he or his team has struggled. His desire to win and have success on the court can sometimes be seen on his face when the opposite occurs.
"That sums Nick up to perfection," Swan said.
To make matters a little tougher, Jeffirs is young for his grade. He was 14 when he played varsity as a freshman. This sophomore year he will be 15 from start to finish.
"Last year I'm going to use as a learning tool," Jeffirs said. "I have two-plus years of high school basketball ahead of me so I have to take advantage of this. I'm starting to figure this out.
"To be completely honest, I think our team is right on the brink. We're figuring our chemistry out. Soon we're all going to be on the same page."