JHS Alum Reaches Final 4 In College Club Basketball

Jamestown native Luke Kindberg, middle, answers questions after the University of Pittsburgh men’s club basketball team’s victory Friday night in South Bend, Indiana. Submitted photo

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Luke Kindberg has always loved basketball.

In fact, beginning in his early teens, he played for some of the best coaches around, learning at the feet of Ken Ricker and Bryan Hodgson during his AAU days, and then as a varsity letter winner at Jamestown High School for Ben Drake.

It’s apparently paying off.

Kindberg, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, is the president and coach of the school’s club hoops team, which is playing in the National Club Basketball Association National Championships this weekend at Indiana University-South Bend.

On Friday night, the top-seeded and unbeaten Panthers defeated No. 8 St. John’s, 94-73, to advance to the Final Four. Pitt, now 18-0, is scheduled to meet East Carolina at 7:30 p.m. today in the semifinals. A victory there would mean a berth in the title game, which is set for noon Sunday.

“All the guys are happy, we’re having a good weekend so far,” said Kindberg, the son of Tim and Maria Kindberg. “It’s definitely been fun.”

It helps when your team is ranked No. 1 in the country among club teams.

“We have some kids who were really good high school players, some who were pretty good high school players and some with college experience,” Kindberg said.

And much like the college game today, Kindberg’s team likes to shoot from the arc.

“We have so many shooters. We’re looking to get open 3s, open layups or be in transition every time,” he said. “It’s worked out pretty well.”

Eight NCBBA teams earned the right to advance to the national tournament. Joining Pitt, St. John’s and East Carolina in the field were Boston College, Georgetown, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Albany and Massachusetts-Lowell. The Panthers’ path to South Bend came by virtue of winning the Great Lakes Regional Championship two weeks ago, knocking off No. 4 Michigan, 83-78, and No. 2 Central Michigan, 80-72.

Kindberg, who will graduate in two weeks, has embraced the leadership roles with the team. In addition to being president and playing 15-20 minutes a game, he also has the responsibilities that any coach would have, including strategy, substitutions and handling in-game and postgame interviews.

“It’s a little weird getting asked questions,” he said, “but they’re putting a lot of money into this tournament, so I try and answer questions the best that I can.”

And should Kindberg’s crew come away with a national title this weekend, it will be a fitting end to his Pitt tenure.

“We’ll get a 4- or 5-foot banner to hang in the rec center (on campus), a good-size trophy and bragging rights for a year,” he said.

In other words, it will be Kindberg’s version of “One Shining Moment.”