Friday the NIC10 championship will be decided in a winner take all battle between Boylan and Auburn. As the teams prepare they are looking for anything that could give them an edge. For the knights that means checking in with a player who knows how to win.
Before Fred Van Vleet went to the NCAA Final Four, he went to the IHSA's. Just two years ago Van Vleet led Auburn to a third place finish at state...Last week he met up with the team after his game at Loyola hoping to inspire a return trip.
"I mean anybody can do this you know." Van Vleet said, "there haven't really been too many guys doing what I'm doing you and a lot of kids don't really have that hope or opportunity so I'm just trying to open up some doors and show them that they can do it."
"It's just an incredible experience to know that i played with somebody who got to play at the next level." Van Vleets former teammate Phillip Trammell told me. "It isn't too often that you get to see somebody you played with be on the big spotlight."
His high school coach Bryan Ott addsn "I hope what it adds for them (the current team) is just the opportunity to see a big time college basketball game, obviously, but also to inspire them about what is possible."
Anything was possible for Van Vleet against Loyola. He didn't miss a shot all game tying a career high with 22 points. But Van Vleet's prowess on the court is only half the story. Coach Ott hopes that his knights will take more valuable lessons off the court.
"He sets a great example both ways. Of how you're supposed to play the game with toughness and intensity, but also how you're supposed to act off the court. To be a person of high moral character. Somebody who is a genuinely good person who people like and want to be around."
"He's like an entertainer," another former teammate Malik Minor notes, "At times he can be really serious, at times he can be really funny, he's just a character. He's the type of guy you love to play with because he's competitive and he just makes people around him so much better."
"It means the world you know and good performance or not it doesn't really matter, just for me to come back and even be able to see them and talk to them. I love all those guys like little brothers."
While the little brothers are competing for the NIC10 title. Van Vleet and the Wichita State Shockers are now just two wins away from a perfect season.