BY JACK YOUNG
“I feel like I can be playing a lot better,” freshman forward Pat Bacon said when asked about his potential, despite already leading the basketball team with 19.5 points per game.
The Spartans quickly found a special talent in Bacon, placing him on the starting roster for their first 18 games. So far, he hasn’t disappointed.
Leading the team in minutes played per game (36.7), free throws per game (5.7), and overall free throw percentage (79.8), Bacon is building up quite the resume at Tampa. Despite all this, he knows he has a lot to work on.
“I know what I need to work on this offseason. I would say the biggest things are defense and shooting,” Bacon said.
Assistant coach Justin Pecka agrees.
“Pat has definitely not reached his full potential,” Pecka said, “He has a very high ceiling, mainly because of his work ethic. When a guy makes a decision to put in the work and is focused on being a great player, the sky’s the limit.”
The most impressive part of Bacon success? He’s only a freshmen.
Bacon played basketball last year in Indianapolis, where he attended Lawrence North High School. In his tenure at Lawrence North, he racked up a slew of accolades, from Marion County Player of the Year to first team Marion County. He was also awarded the Subway Player of the Year three times and eventually led his team on to win the 2015 sectionals championship, cementing his high school legacy.
As for his own future, his goal is to play professionally; though he’s not trying to mimic anyone’s path.
“I wouldn’t say I have any idols,” Bacon said. He does, however, admire Kobe Bryant for how he carries himself on the court, and his attitude in general. Another major influence is his older cousin, who played at Kentucky Wesleyan College and is now hooping professionally in China.
Pecka said that the biggest difference between Bacon and most freshmen he coached was his focus and work ethic.
“Usually freshman come in and don’t fully understand what it takes to be good at this level,” Pecka said, “Bacon is in the gym just about every morning. He puts in extra work in the weight room with our strength and conditioning coach.”
Bacon’s peak performance this season came when the Spartans played Tiffin in a double overtime thriller. He dazzled with 31 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and shooting a perfect four-for-four from outside the arc a collegiate-high for Bacon in points, rebounds and assists. Although the Spartans lost in an 103-99 battle, there was no lack of production.
If Bacon can keep up these numbers this season and put in work during the offseason, he’ll be a dominant force for the Spartans over the next few years. The team is relatively young with the team comprised of mostly freshmen or sophomores.
Pecka couldn’t overstate the intense work ethic of Bacon. Stating that the freshman is usually the first one on the court shooting and stretching earlier than anyone and generally one of the last ones off. This work ethic isn’t limited to just the court though.
As Pecka said, “We’re expecting him to have a great career at Tampa, both on the court and in the classroom.”