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OSL’s Jaquan Sanders shines in unique season
Jaquan Sanders, New York’s No. 2-ranked player, averaged 19 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals per game in his junior season at Our Savior Lutheran. (Courtesy: @Jay__Sanders2/Twitter)

OSL’s Jaquan Sanders shines in unique season

BRONX, N.Y. (BVM) — Our Saviour Lutheran’s (OSL) Jaquan Sanders might be New York’s top shotmaker at the high school level. The junior guard is coming off an unfamiliar season where his team was the only one playing in the city.

With COVID-19 cancellations delaying the winter basketball season for all teams in the city, New York’s No. 2-ranked player in the Class of 2022 had the rare chance to showcase his scoring ability on the basketball court during the 2021 season. 

“I was truly blessed to play this year,” Sanders said. “All the lights were on New York, we were the only team in the east playing. I felt like that was a great accomplishment for us. I feel like we put the city on our back and our street on our back to go out on the West Coast and show people that we are talented and [we] are a great team. I felt bad for other teams that they couldn’t play but I was truly blessed and highly favored to be able to play in our position and have a junior year.”

Playing in The Grind Session, an elite prep basketball circuit that hosted competition in a ‘bubble’ this season, Sanders averaged 19 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals per game while shooting 39 percent from 3-point range for the Falcons in their 28game season. His junior year performance was no surprise for the people who have continued to watch him grow.

“I tell everybody he has an old man game,” Our Saviour Lutheran head coach Pete Wehye said. “Yeah he can dunk the ball, but it’s not his athleticism. He’s able to pass, he’s able to handle and everybody knows his jump shot is the most lethal thing, probably in the city… he has the ultimate green light from me.”

For Sanders, getting the ‘green light’ from his coach has taken time. Playing behind now-St. John’s guard Posh Alexander his freshman year, Sanders would get his first opportunity in the starting lineup after Alexander went down with an arm injury. The opportunity led to 23 points from the young guard and a changed mindset.

“Coach Pete was telling me, ‘it’s your time, show everybody that you can be great, show the person that you can be,’” Sanders said of his first start. “Ever since that day I’ve been working hard everyday, in and out the gym from my freshman year to my junior year.”

Hard work is a quality that’s been instilled in Sanders from the day he arrived at OSL. The junior guard has made it a habit to work out with his coach, even on off days. All the extra work in the gym has formed a strong bond between Sanders and his head coach.

“I’m very grateful to have a coach like Coach Pete because every other coach is not the same,” Sanders said. “I feel like Coach Pete [and I] have great communication with each other and he helps me if I’m doing something wrong. He makes sure I’m a student first before I’m going to be an athlete… He always tells me [even] if I don’t want to make it, he’s going to make sure I make it and always work hard.”

With another impressive season, Sanders has continued to hear from schools around the country. He’s been in touch with a list of Division I programs including: Lasalle, Xavier, St. John’s, Pittsburgh, Holy Cross, Creighton and UCLA.

Luckily for Sanders, he has an older brother that knows what it’s like to go through the recruiting process. Jermaine, once a forward at the University of Cincinnati, has made sure to prepare his younger brother for what’s ahead.

“He’s always telling me to work hard [and] show people that you can be the best that you can be,” Jaquan said. “My goal is to be better than my older brother. He’s always telling me I can be better than him, make it further than him, and he’s always telling me that hard work is going to pay off one day… I always listen to him. That’s my big brother and I already know he’s going to make sure that I’m good.”

With his junior season with OSL coming to a close, Jaquan will look to get back on the floor in the EYBL tournament in the upcoming weeks.

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