By ALEX ABATE ~ DAR Sports Writer
Nick Niemczyk is glad to be following in his father's footsteps.
Nick's father, Pat, played for Three Rivers' national championship team in 1979 and this past Friday, Nick signed his letter of intent to continue his basketball career with the Raiders.
"It felt really good (to sign)," Nick Niemczyk said.
Niemczyk had other offers from colleges like Shawnee and Meramec but wanted to play for Gene Bess at Three Rivers.
"My dad played there and said (Bess) will work you hard and you won't get any better anywhere else," Nick Niemczyk said.
Bell City finished at 25-4 in Niemczyk's senior season and had many weapons this past season, but Niemczyk was one of the best, Bell City coach Brian Brandtner said.
"I have coached a lot of greats, and he is the most talented I have ever coached," Brandtner said. "What a good rebounder and passer he is. He brings so much to the table and is a great kid."
The 6-foot-1 Niemczyk averaged 30.0 points and 6.0 rebounds. He also found his teammates as he averaged 3.5 assists per game.
"I think he is a good shooter, and we want to get him better," Bess said. "We want to get him to be more versatile and challenge him to get stronger. I think he's the kind of young man that wants a challenge."
Niemczyk still needs to improve on some skills as he transitions to Three Rivers.
"I just think he needs to get stronger and more aggressive," Bess said. "I think he had to be careful about fouling and will have to get over that and play hard and guard the ball."
Niemczyk played both the two guard and point guard in high school and can be effective at both spots, Brandtner said.
"He was our best ball-handler last year but we didn't want to ask him to be bringing the ball up and to get open all the time," Brandtner said. "His ball-handling skills are solid."
The page of the game will be an adjustment.
"Well, anytime you make the jump the game changes," Brandtner said. "The marking on the floor are the same but the speed is so much different. Nick is going to adjust."
At Three Rivers, Niemczyk won't be under pressure to get a bulk of the scoring.
"I won't have to do all the scoring because I'll have good players all around me " Niemczyk said. "Yeah, I (had pressure), but didn't let it get to me."
The Raiders have also signed Jeff Shelton, a 6-foot-1 point guard out of David G. Farragut High School in Rota, Spain, and Marland Johnson, a 6-5 forward from Mounds, Ill.
Point guard Alonzo Louis has decided to transfer to McCook Community College in Nebraska.
"I just need to go somewhere else where I can play like I know how," Louis said.
Louis averaged 10.94 minutes per game this past season for the Raiders off the bench. He will travel to St. Louis to sign his letter of intent on April 22.