Drew Scharnowski had a productive junior season with one of the top Class 3A teams in the state, followed by an outstanding spring and summer in which he landed close to two dozen NCAA Division I offers.
The 6-foot-8 Burlington Central senior forward made it official Friday, tweeting that he has committed to Belmont University, a Nashville, Tennessee, school that is joining the Missouri Valley Conference this year.
“It came down to feel. The coaches are great, the facilities are brand new, and once I got down there, I just knew it felt right,” Scharnowski said. “It’s super exciting. Being in the gym, grinding my butt off. I got all these offers, but it didn’t change me. I stayed in the gym and did what got me to that point.”
Scharnowski became better known to college coaches in the spring with his AAU team, Breakaway Basketball. Then, back with Burlington Central in June, he lit up some tournaments in the suburbs at Batavia and Riverside-Brookfield.
The frenzy started for Scharnowski after that. He listed William & Mary and St. Thomas (Minnesota) as his other top choices.
“All my offers were this summer,” he said. “One weekend at Riverside-Brookfield, live period for high school, and things kind of blew up. A lot of top teams from Chicago were there, it was a really fun experience and it really helped me.”
Scharnowski averaged 9.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and shot 53.8% from the field for the 31-4 Rockets, who lost to St. Francis, 37-35, in the Crystal Lake South Class 3A sectional championship. Scharnowski was a Northwest Herald All-Area honorable mention selection.
When he was growing up, Scharnowski played guard, so he had good ballhandling skills. He has since grown 6 inches in high school, so he has smaller player skills with a taller player’s body.
“You could see when he was in middle school, he was 5-10 and he was a point guard,” Rockets coach Brett Porto said. “When it all came together, it was going to be like the modern-day game is. He’s a 6-8 player who can handle the ball, can guard 1-5 at our level. At the college level he’ll be able to guard three, maybe even four positions.
“A lot of these college coaches can see the ceiling’s so high for him. That gets people very excited.”
Belmont has been the home for two other FVC big men over the past eight years. Huntley’s Amanze Egekeze (2014) and Cary-Grove’s Frank Jakubicek (2020) both played for the Bruins.
Porto thought Belmont’s coaches were more aware of Scharnowski because of what he did this summer, although Scharnowski is familiar with both Egekeze and Jakubicek.
“I know both those guys,” he said. “I played against Frank, and I train with Amanze right now.”
Scharnowski and Egekeze train with Huntley graduate Zac Boster, a basketball development coach who works out players at Triton Junior College in River Grove. Everything has come together through Scharnowski’s hard work.
“Being able to play on the perimeter and adding this size and being able to do the same stuff,” he said, “but being able to go inside with post moves. I became super versatile.”