Burlington Central’s Drew Scharnowski commits to Belmont

By the time all the summer evaluation periods concluded in July, the 6-8 Drew Scharnowski had 20-plus offers.

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Burlington Central’s Drew Scharnowski (31) looks to shoot the ball against St. Rita at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.

Burlington Central’s Drew Scharnowski (31) looks to shoot the ball against St. Rita at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

As Burlington Central’s Drew Scharnowski was approaching the midway point of his junior season last December, the idea of playing Division I basketball in a couple of years was the furthest thing from his mind.

“Honestly, playing basketball long term wasn’t in the picture,” Scharnowsk said of how he viewed his basketball career just seven months ago. “I kind of just thought I would eventually just go to school to go to school –– without basketball.”

By the time all the summer evaluation periods concluded in July, the 6-8 Scharnowski had 20-plus offers.

Schnarnowski, the quintessential late bloomer who has grown six inches since his freshman year, will indeed be playing college basketball going forward, announcing on Friday he has committed to Belmont.

“Right from the beginning, as soon as they reached out, I was interested in Belmont,” Scharnowski said. “My parents immediately were like, ‘Drew, this is a good school.’ So we knew we would go visit. I had a list of five [schools] in my head but they went to the top quickly.”

With nearly two dozen offers, Scharnowski was a coveted mid-major prospect. But Belmont’s basketball, education, and culture were ideal for him after taking a July visit to the Nashville campus.

He was drawn to the campus, the basketball success, upgrades to the facilities, and the fact it’s a private Christian university.

“Once you’re visiting schools, it’s about the feel,” Scharnowski said. “And Belmont just felt right. The coaches were awesome, the guys on the team were awesome. They have a great campus. The school is a Christian school and my family is Christian. That was big. They’ve been super successful as a basketball program.”

The Bruins are joining the Missouri Valley Conference this season and have played in eight NCAA Tournaments since 2006.

Scharnowski will be heading to Belmont as a changed basketball player. He plays with a new confidence level to go with all the skills he possesses as a fluid 4-man who runs the floor and can handle the ball.

Scharnowski, who averaged just 9.2 points as a junior, says the mental transformation began immediately after his high school season while playing with his Breakaway club basketball team.

The easy-to-see tools were there. But this past spring it turned into massive production. He went from a valuable and impactful role player with his high school team to a go-to player with Breakaway.

“I think the first AAU tournament of the spring in Wisconsin I had 20 some points in a game and thought, ‘Hold up. I wasn’t doing this type of stuff during the season,’” Scharnowski said. “It was a step up in AAU competition and I thought right then, ‘Alright, I can do this. Just keep it going.’ My confidence really took off from that point forward.”

Projected as the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s breakout player last spring, Scharnowski didn’t let up. Scharnowski’s middle school point guard days helped transition him into a multi-faceted player at 6-8 who fits modern-day basketball so well.

He climbed the rankings –– Scharnowksi is a City/Suburban Hoops Report top 10 prospect in the senior class –– and then exploded in June while playing with Burlington Central during the two high school “live” periods.

While Scharnowski is putting up numbers and is now a prospect with substance, he’s also just beginning to tap into his enormous upside.

“I don’t think I have a clue as to what I can be as a player a year from now, and I think that’s a good thing,” Scharnowski said. “It raises the excitement. I know myself and I know I am going to be in that gym working. I know what got me to this point, so I need to just keep doing that.”

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