Late in the summer league game against Naperville North on June 10, Burlington Central’s Drew Scharnowski made a statement play with a statement yell.
The 6-foot-8 senior guard capped a big slam dunk with a loud yell in the second half of a close game at the Hoop Mountain Midwest Varsity Summer Shootout at Batavia High School.
After a breakout junior season followed by a strong showing in April for his AAU team Breakaway Basketball, Scharnowski is accustomed to making waves.
Scharnowski, who has an offer from Brown, is a player to watch in the Class of 2023 because of his height, athleticism and ability to play inside or outside.
“It’s been crazy since last year,” Scharnowski said. “Last year at this time, it was nothing. I was super hesitant last year, but I got the ball in my hands a lot this year and everything became better. Last year, I didn’t get any [attention]. The first week of AAU this spring, I had so many coaches calling me. It just blew up.
“I was so lean last year, not too big. I put on some muscle and height. I’m just trying to go out there and play my best.”
Greg Ktistou, the owner of Breakaway Basketball, said Scharnowski has developed his game to become a must-see player after growing 6 inches since his freshman season.
“He came to us last year and was a super athletic kid at 6-8 who ran the floor and moved well,” Ktistou said. “He was way different than a lot of kids due to his overall skill set. He always had a good skill set, but he expanded on that, from his back to basket to moving out to the perimeter. He’s gotten a lot stronger, plus his confidence has really grown from the winter to the summer.”
Scharnowski credited part of his development to playing with AAU teammates Bobby Durkin of Glenbard West and guard Niklas Polonowski of Lyons.
“They have the perfect mix of going inside and shooting the 3-pointer, so I’ve been learning a lot from them in practice,” Scharnowski said. “It’s been a really fun summer. Playing with guys like them in practice who are physical and stronger, I made sure to get faster and make my cuts faster. I was able to get better and get to the hoop better.
Scharnowski, who averaged 9.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in his junior season, is an intriguing recruit based on his ballhandling and perimeter skills. He played point guard in middle school before hitting a growth spurt.
“Drew’s body changed, but he’s still used to doing things when he was at 6-1 but now he’s 6-8,” Ktistou said. “He’s matured a lot since last year, where he can be effective on both ends of the court. He’s been working on his body to get stronger, to expand his game.”
Ktistou said he used Scharnowski’s ballhandling prowess to help bring the ball up the court in the spring AAU season, which helped draw more attention to his diverse skills. Ktistou said several Ivy League, Patriot League, Missouri Valley and Mid-American Conference schools have inquired about Scharnowski.
“Drew is a guy who can handle the ball like a guard, so for us when teams pressure us, we bring him to the front,” Ktistou said. “Drew will bring it up and start the offense. In the open floor, he makes good decisions. At the college level, coaches are really excited to see him as a wing or stretch-four.”
Scharnowski said the spring AAU season really helped expand his game. The July AAU season is big for Scharnowski’s college future. He’s planning to work on his 3-pointer to add another layer to his game.
“It was interesting because I wasn’t really playing point guard in AAU before, but in the first week [this spring], I was bringing the ball up the court,” Scharnowski said. “I loved it. It adds versatility to my game, another skill to my arsenal. My overall court awareness improved and keeping guys away with my size helps a lot.”
Ktistou said Scharnowski has all the tools to become a big-time recruit in the coming months, comparing him to former Timothy Christian star guard Ben VanderWal, who picked up 15 offers last July.
“No one really knew about Drew coming into this spring,” Ktistou said. “He exploded in the spring. It was the first chance for several [colleges] to see him in the two evaluation periods in April. He’s got a ton of schools really excited to see him starting next week. In July, he’s going to be on the big stage.”