Junior prospects work towards dream to play for DI basketball teams


Sanjay Lumpkin moves past a defender along the baseline. Lumpkin, along with Isaiah Zierden, has received many letters from DI schools.

Giulia Imholte, staff writer

Searching for the perfect college has always been an extensive process, but two basketball players have found that with hard work and dedication the right college might just find them. Isaiah Zierden, a junior who plays point guard and is one of three captains for the boys’ basketball team, and Sanjay Lumpkin, a junior who plays small forward, and shooting guard, have both heard from various colleges hoping to recruit them to play in about a year’s time.

Zierden, who began his basketball career as a kindergartner playing on a first grade team and continues to play outside of school on the elite Howard-Pulley team, began receiving letters from colleges the summer after freshman year. “I’ve heard from Davidson, Bucknell, and Santa Clara. Creighton calls me a lot,” said Zierden.

Lumpkin, who played hockey up until fourth grade when he took on basketball and now plays for an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) team called Pump n’ Run outside of school, had a similar experience. “The AAU team that I play for goes through the whole summer and a lot of colleges get to see me play. I got my letters after AAU, the summer before sophomore year,” said Lumpkin.

Because many students don’t begin to think about college until their junior year, Zierden and Lumpkin found it weird to be hearing from colleges when they were only rising sophomores. “I was getting all the letters and I wasn’t really thinking about college yet,” said Zierden.

Despite the early influx of letters from colleges, both Lumpkin and Zierden have now developed shorts lists of colleges they are interested in. Zierden’s list consists of Creighton, Wisconsin-Madison, Santa Clara, Stanford, Oregon, and Michigan. Lumpkin’s list includes Stanford, Notre Dame, Washington State, Butler, Oregon, Santa Clara and Boston University. “I hear from Stanford and Notre Dame a lot. Drake and Holy Cross have offered me scholarships,” said Lumpkin.

The extent of these colleges’ interest in Zierden and Lumpkin is demonstrated not only through frequent meetings and letters, but also communication with the various head coaches. “I’ve talked to all the head coaches either on the phone or I’ve met them in person,” said Lumpkin.

Zierden has various skills that add to his appeal as a high-school recruit for colleges. “I play point guard and can also play shooting guard. Colleges like a shooting guard that can handle the ball. I think most colleges are just looking for me to grow,” said Zierden.

Lumpkin, whose build is different than that of a typical shooting guard or small forward, has worked to improve all areas of his game which give him more diverse playing abilities. “I’m so much longer than any other shooting guard or small forward, but I feel like I’m skilled in a lot of areas offensively, and my defense improved this past summer,” said Lumpkin.

Although both players would have excelled in their basketball careers at any other high school, Zierden and Lumpkin were drawn to the BSM school community and sports program. “I went to all the camps from when I was really small. Plus, coming from Breck, the atmosphere here was so much cooler. Then, I went to the Minnetonka game in 2007, and after that I knew I wanted to come here,” said Lumpkin.

Zierden and Lumpkin’s success in basketball is not solely based on their talent but also fueled by their love for the game. “I enjoy playing because it gives me an outlet from all the stress of everything else; it just gives me a place to be. I want to keep playing until I can’t anymore,” said Zierden.

Although Zierden and Lumpkin have more pressing matters on their minds, like the basketball season which; the all-important college decision is just around the corner. “I still don’t know what I want to do,” said Lumpkin.