Calumet led by 21st Cen­tury grads

21st Cen­tury grad leads tough-minded crew of Calumet play­ers

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Core’Vonn Lott is only a fresh­man, but is al­ready one to beat. Lott is a star at Calumet Col­lege along with oth­ers com­ing from 21st Cen­tury, a Class A school.

Core’Von Lott played in the shad­ows of Eu­gene Ger­man and De­An­dre Ghol­ston at 21st Cen­tury, a Class A school.

Now, as a fresh­man, he’s a star at Calumet Col­lege.

The Crim­son Wave (14-1) are off to its best start in Ryan Sex­son’s 12 sea­sons as head coach.

Lott, a 6-foot-1 guard who sat out last sea­son, is av­er­ag­ing 15.7 points.

In most ways, Lott is the quin­tes­sen­tial player for the Crim­son Wave.

He lives at home, com­mut­ing 30 min­utes from Gary. He gets up early for two morn­ing classes, then breaks for a per­sonal work­out. He eats lunch and then prac­tices with the team, typ­i­cally from 3:30 to 5 p.m. He ends fre­quently with an­other work­out.

Lott is an ex­cep­tion in one way. He ar­rived at Calumet straight from high school. Many play­ers on the ros­ter are castoffs from ju­nior col­lege or have un­usual bas­ket­ball back­grounds.

Few col­leges re­cruited Lott, who av­er­aged 18 points and 2.5 as­sists as a se­nior in high school. Calumet, an NAIA Divi­sion II school, plays in the Chicago Col­le­giate Ath­letic Con­fer­ence.

“I loved the cam­pus and no one else of­fered,” Lott said.

It doesn’t get any earth­ier than Calumet. It’s a pure bas­ket­ball ex­pe­ri­ence.

“You can’t play at Calumet if you don’t love the game,” Sex­son said. “I just try to be sur­rounded by guys who love the game.”

The Crim­son Wave ap­pear to have dis­cov­ered that group love.

Joe Larry, Calumet’s lead­ing scorer, av­er­ages 18.2 points. He’s a 6-0 se­nior guard who played a “min­i­mal role” at Park­land Com­mu­nity Col­lege for two sea­sons be­fore com­ing to Calumet, ac­cord­ing to Sex­son.

Sex­son said Larry can score a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent ways.

“He’s had a chance to shine here,” Sex­son said.

La­zono Tram­mell, a 6-8

“We want to win con­fer­ence and go to na­tion­als. We’d like to win a cou­ple of games in the tour­na­ment and get as far as we can. For now, we are just tak­ing it one game at a time. We want to con­tinue to buy in.”

— Core’Von Lott

start­ing for­ward who is the big­gest player for Calumet, gets a spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion from prac­tice at times be­cause he’s in the U.S. Army Na­tional Guard.

Tram­mell played at Chicago Har­lan and Shawnee Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

Bow­man grad­u­ate An­thony Cole, a se­nior guard, is an­other starter. He played for a year at Oak­ton Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

The list of what Sex­son can’t of­fer seems longer that what he can. Calumet doesn’t have dorms or a meal plan.

No one has a full schol­ar­ship.

Ac­cord­ing to Sex­son, “Ev­ery­one here is pay­ing some­thing out of pocket.”

What he sells is a tough con­fer­ence and an op­por­tu­nity to star.

All his play­ers have Chicago or North­west In­di­ana roots.

The good start is a sur­prise.

Three key play­ers fin­ished their el­i­gi­bil­ity last sea­son — Devin Har­ri­son, an NAIA All-Amer­i­can; Michael Brooks, their start­ing point guard; and Jose Ramirez, their big­gest player.

Be­cause there’s so much tran­si­tion, Sex­son is never sure what he has un­til the sea­son starts.

“I knew we were ath­letic and we had some tal­ent,” Sex­son said. “These were mostly sec­ondary play­ers, though.”

As­sis­tant coach Chris Ar­tis was sur­prised too.

“I did not ex­pect this at all,” he said. “Our guys play re­ally, re­ally hard and they are tough.”

It sounds hokey, but Sex­son hopes for the type of or­ganic chem­istry he has this sea­son.

It doesn’t al­ways hap­pen.

The Crim­son Wave has only qual­i­fied for the NAIA play­offs once un­der Sex­son.

If they win the South Divi­sion of the CCAC, they’re in. If they win the con­fer­ence tour­na­ment, they’re in.

“Half the bat­tle is get­ting them to play hard and get­ting them to play to­gether,” Sex­son said. “We are for­tu­nate we have guys who are com­pet­i­tive, love the game and al­low us to coach them.”

Lott said he’s try­ing to not look ahead.

“We want to win con­fer­ence and go to na­tion­als,” he said.

“We’d like to win a cou­ple of games in the tour­na­ment and get as far as we can.

“For now, we are just tak­ing it one game at a time. We want to con­tinue to buy in.”

COLIN TERRILL PHO­TOS

Core’Von Lott, a 21st Cen­tury grad­u­ate, is av­er­ag­ing 15.7 points for Calumet Col­lege.

Calumet Col­lege’s An­thony Cole, right, passes over a Jud­son de­fender Dec. 1.

Mike Hut­ton

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