Sports

Nunogawa plays big for Decatur

"Decatur senior Niko Nunogawa gets the ball in the post with his back to the hoop. He fakes right then turns left and drains the short jumper, is fouled on the play and converts the free throw. Cut. Nunogawa drives the baseline, finger-rolls a touch-shot off the glass for two points. Cut. Nunogawa makes a steal, drives the length of the court and pulls up 10 feet away to knock down a short jumper. Cut. Nunogawa draws three defenders with the ball inside, but passes it out to wide-open teammate Brandon Parker, who nails the shot. Cut. The Gators swing the ball around the three-point arch to Nunogawa, who calmly fires and draws nothing but net from 25-feet out. And that was all in the first half. Everytime I get the ball I look to score, Nunogawa said. But if I get double or triple teamed, I don't mind passing it off. The 6-foot-5 Nunogawa is double and triple teamed more than ever this year as the consistent senior has quietly emerged as the top-scorer in a league dominated by flashy college-bound players. He has that strong inside presence, Decatur coach Kevin Olson said. If we can get him the ball, he'll find a way to score.Nunogawa also scores in the classroom. He has a 3.5 grade point average. It's fun to play with a player like that, said Decatur senior guard Chad Bellessa. I can get eight or nine assists and I don't even have to make a good pass. Just throwing it down to Niko is an assist. While Nunogawa doesn't say much, his ability to score speaks volumes. Nunogawa is averaging 23.7 points points through 10 league games this season. He doesn't say anything, Bellessa said. He shows what he can do on the court and lets his skill do the talking. But when he does say something, we all listen.As a sophomore, Nunogawa was shy and reserved, Olson said. The second half of last year he stepped up and shot a solid 79 percent from the field, averaging about 16 points per game the second half of the season.He has one of the smoothest looking shots I've ever seen, Olson said. He gives us confidence on the offensive line. All of the guys look for him because he puts the ball in the basket. The key to us winning is getting guys to step up around him, because we know he's going to be solid.This year, in addition to all the scoring, Nunogawa has picked up his rebounding and passing game.The Decatur basketball team turns in goal sheets before each game. On the sheet they write what they hope to accomplish in the game. One thing Nunogawa has been listing on his goal sheet is to earn an assist sticker. That's something he's put on there lately, Olson said. He's starting to pass the ball more. It's not just him scoring. If we get him the ball, we score.Nunogawa is being recruited by just about all the area community colleges and a couple Division II colleges. But for now, his focus is on helping Decatur win the rest of its basketball games. I just do what I can to lead my team to win, Nunogawa said. "

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