Boys Basketball: O’Connor becomes Tecumseh’s 7th 1,000-point scorer

Cutline: Tecumseh High School junior Collin O'Connor (23) poses with teammates after scoring his 1,000th career point on Tuesday night in New Carlisle. O'Connor scored 34 points in the Arrows' 80-50 victory over Benjamin Logan. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

caption arrowCaption
Cutline: Tecumseh High School junior Collin O'Connor (23) poses with teammates after scoring his 1,000th career point on Tuesday night in New Carlisle. O'Connor scored 34 points in the Arrows' 80-50 victory over Benjamin Logan. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

NEW CARLISLE — Tecumseh High School junior Collin O’Connor was doing his best to get his teammates involved in the second half against Benjamin Logan on Tuesday night, but Arrows coach Kyle Leathley made him change his plans.

“I was just trying to pass the ball and Coach told me to start shooting it,” O’Connor said. “I had an idea I was close (to 1,000 points), but he obviously knew I was close. When I got about 10 points away, he told me to start shooting the ball.”

O’Connor scored 34 points in the Arrows’ 80-50 victory over the Raiders to become the seventh player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points, joining a list that includes NBA legend Wayne Embry.

It was the culmination of countless hours of hard work, O’Connor said.

“It was a lot of waking up early, late nights going to the gym getting shots up,” he said. “A lot of hard work has gone into it and it’s paid off.”

The 6-foot-2 junior guard is averaging a Central Buckeye Conference-best 24.8 points per game. He’s also averaging 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game for the Arrows (7-6, 2-3 CBC Kenton Trail). He’s scored more than 30 points four times this season and is shooting 49.4 percent from the field.

When asked what O’Connor does so well on the floor, Leathley’s answer was easy: “Everything.”

“He’s got a commanding presence about himself,” Leathley said. “He knows when to attack and knows when to set other guys up also. For a 1,000-point scorer, he’s a pretty unselfish kid and pretty humble. He puts the team ahead of everything else and that’s what makes seeing things happen like last night even more special.”

The Arrows have lost four games by two points or less this winter in Leathley’s first season as Tecumseh’s varsity coach, including two-point losses to both Jonathan Alder and Shawnee.

“I think learning how to finish, learning how to win those games and me being better as a coach and putting them in the right situations I think is something we’re trying to work on,” Leathley said. “I think we’re getting close. When you look at our games, I feel pretty good about where we’ve been even though some of them have gone the other way. We’ve been in every game. I think learning how to win and finishing is something we’re in the process of figuring out.”

Leathley served as Roger Culbertson’s junior varsity coach for more than a decade before taking over the program this season. Culbertson, who won three Central Buckeye Conference titles and 233 games in 21 seasons, is serving as Leathley’s junior varsity coach.

“I know every coach says that, but we really do have great kids in the program,” Leathley said. “It just goes back to the culture that Coach Culbertson established and the kind of kids we have in the district.”

O’Connor needs 405 points to pass 1986 Clark County Mr. Basketball Andy Arnott as the school’s all-time leading scorer, but that won’t be his main focus moving forward, he said.

“It’s cool to get records, but you want to get wins,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor’s all-around game is more than just scoring, Leathley said.

“He’s our best defender when he needs to be,” he said. “You can challenge him to guard someone and he’ll do it, no questions asked. … He’s the definition of a humble kid. He’s a great kid, a great basketball player and a better young man.”

After playing in showcases last summer, O’Connor’s recruiting picked up. He’s got an offer from the South Carolina Upstate and is being recruited by several other Division I schools, including Ohio University, Akron, Toledo, Bucknell and Ball State, among others.

“This summer is huge for me,” he said. “I’m just enjoying the process and having fun.”

About the Author