It’s a long trek to Lehigh from Seattle, Washington, but sophomore center Nic Lynch knows his choice to come to South Bethlehem justifies the distance.
Lynch is a graduate of Seattle Prep, where he played under coach Mike Kelly. Kelly also coached former Lehigh men’s basketball player and captain Jordan Hamilton, ‘12, who was part of the team under coach Brett Reed that famously beat Duke in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
“I called (Hamilton) and asked him a bunch of questions about the school, the program — obviously, playing for Coach Reed — everything like that,” Lynch said. “He was super helpful. That’s honestly one of the reasons why I’m here, because he helped so much.”
The men’s basketball team has faced significant adversity this year with the exit of three of their top four scorers from last season, as well as injuries to key players.
Despite a 7-18 record, Lynch and his teammates are remaining calm. They know there’s still plenty of basketball to be played.
“It’s one thing for us to lose seven straight like we did,” Lynch said. “But we also have so many freshmen playing, and I’ve actually been surprised that they’ve stayed fairly positive so far. I didn’t really see that coming. We all show leadership in our own ways.”
After having to sit last semester out, Lynch has stepped in as a starter, following an injury to junior center James Karnik.
Lynch hasn’t let his time away from the court last semester affect his play thus far, averaging 10 points over 11 games this season, including a career-high 25 point effort against Army on Feb. 1.
“I thought he handled it about as well as any person could,” Reed said. “He remained focused and didn’t get discouraged, whether that’s in the classroom or out on the court. It would have been easy for him to lose motivation and his preparation. But, every single day, he brought a great attitude to practice and worked really, really hard for the time when he knew he could get back on the floor.”
Lynch appeared in all 31 games last year and averaged 3.8 points a game.
Although his season isn’t done yet, Lynch’s impact on the team has vastly improved from his freshman season. He is the first player since Tim Kempton Jr., ‘17, to put up 25 points and 13 rebounds in a game.
“It’s great to see,” senior guard Jordan Cohen said. “He’s only a sophomore. He has a ton of potential. He’s almost 7 feet and has a very good touch around the basket. Seeing him have a game like that hopefully encourages him to keep playing like that and boosts his confidence. We would love to have that from him every game.”
Lynch said his confidence played a big role in him bringing his game to the next level this year.
“I think I just kept my head down,” Lynch said. “I kept working, trusting the work that I put in. People always say confidence comes from the work you put in. Honestly, I put in a lot of work this spring and summer.”
Reed said what stands out about Lynch is his attitude and his constant work ethic. He said Lynch will do anything that his coaches ask of him.
Lynch’s own goals for himself echoed Reed’s comments.
With two and a half years left in his college career, Lynch said he wants to be remembered as a player who did whatever necessary to get his team a win.
“I think we all kind of want to leave here as winners or have the legacy of winners,” Lynch said. “You may have different roles in some games. Everybody has a different role on the team. Just live in it.”
After defeating Holy Cross 89-82 on Wednesday, the Lehigh men’s basketball team resumes action at Army on Feb. 15.