Senior guard Corey Schaefer is the captain of the men's basketball team. He is averaging 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game this season. (Ashley Omoma/B&W photo)

Senior captain Corey Schaefer helps lead Lehigh men’s basketball


He has never attended a Lehigh-Lafayette football game in his four years at Lehigh. But he was court-side when Lehigh beat Duke.

Corey Schaefer, a 6-foot-1 senior guard from Johnston, Iowa, represents consistency and reliability for Lehigh men’s basketball. In fact, in his four years playing for the team, he’s worked his way up to captain of the entire team.

“It’s a big honor but a big responsibility for me,” Schaefer said. “I’m happy that I can help the team and lead them in the right direction to the goals that we want to accomplish this year, and I’m glad I have the guys support.”

Schaefer isn’t necessarily the type of guy that will go out yelling and screaming to get the team fired up. He prefers to lead by example, but he still has the ability to lead vocally.

“I’m more of a lead by example kind of leader, but I’ve had to adapt and take on a little more of a vocal role the older I’ve gotten with this team, so it’s kind of a combination of both.”

Brett Reed, the coach of Lehigh’s men’s basketball team, agreed with this statement, believing that he has taken on a more vocal role as the team’s captain.

“Corey has done a great job over the course of his career leading by example,” Reed said. “He is one of our hardest workers, he’s one our most committed players and he has stepped up this year with his enhanced verbal responsibilities and leadership, and I’m proud of his performance thus far.”

Schaefer has largely improved over the four years that he’s been a player at Lehigh. As of the end of his junior year, he’s averaging 5.2 points per game, 1.8 rebounds per game and 1.9 assists per game.

His averages for all three categories in his junior year were career highs for him, including his 8.3 points per game. Despite this, he doesn’t focus on individual goals.

“I didn’t set any (goals), I’ve just been through the process now where the main thing I want to do is get back to the NCAA Tournament and have a chance to compete on that stage.”

As Reed mentioned many times, Schaefer is seen as one of the most reliable players on the court. He doesn’t need to average a double-double per game to do his part.

“Corey is a very hard worker who has spent a lot of time on his game to enhance his skill level to become a very reliable shooter, a solid playmaker and someone that our coaching staff knows is very reliable,” Reed said.

While many of the big name high school basketball recruits might come from bigger states such as California or New York, Schaefer is from the middle of Iowa. He first got his inspiration in the sport from his father, who has been the head coach of Grand View University’s men’s basketball team for 17 years.

Schaefer, therefore, first got into basketball as a little kid and has been playing ever since.

“He’s the one who really sparked my interest,” Schaefer said about his father. “Going to their practices, going to their games, traveling with their team…it just kind of built up from there.”

Coming from Iowa, Lehigh doesn’t necessarily seem like the most obvious school to attend, but Schaefer found his way here. Reed first saw him play in the summer before Schaefer’s senior year of high school, and he was very impressed with his ability.

“He played with a great deal of confidence, found open teammates and was somebody that I thought could come in and really be a solid player for our program,” Reed said.

According to Reed, basketball Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino even called him “terrific” one time when watching Schaefer during a summer game in high school.

Schaefer stood out even more after coming from the same club program as Gabe Knutson, a standout player for Lehigh’s basketball team during the time when they beat Duke University in the NCAA Tournament. Reed said he wanted to continue the relationship with that program and geographical region.

Schaefer mostly got offers from the Midwest, so he was faced with the decision of staying in the area or moving out to the East Coast and playing basketball there.

Once Schaefer compared Lehigh with some of the other schools he received offers from, he picked the Mountain Hawks for their coaching staff, the players and Lehigh’s academic prestige.

“All three of those things really are what drew me all the way out here,” Schaefer said.

After coming to Lehigh and playing in 33 of the team’s 35 games, Schaefer realized the big differences between the high school and college game.

“The pace of the game was a lot faster,” Schaefer said. “The guys are also a lot stronger and more physical, and defensively it’s a whole different experience…in high school, most guys come in, and they didn’t have to play a lot of defense.”

But over the years, Schaefer has transitioned well, going from a bench player to a full-time starter his junior year, to senior leader. He scored a career-high 17 points against Big East opponent DePaul University.

Reed has high expectations for him for the rest of the season.

“It’s going to be very important that he applies his experience and maturity to continue to showcase the way that our younger players should not only act, but also perform.”

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