USC’s Grabowski garners MVP honors
Jordan Grabowski had a propensity for scoring like NHL great Wayne Gretsky. However, he gave up goals for baskets some time ago and has never regretted it.
Because the commissioner of the USC basketball recreation league would make fun of hockey to him, Grabowski tried out for travel ball and quit playing hockey in the sixth grade.
“I’m glad I did, Grabowski said. “Basketball led me to a pretty good future.”
Yet, the foundation was built on hockey. And, its tenets sharpened Grabowski’s aptitude, not to mention attitude, on the courts.
“Jordan was such a tough, hard-nose kid,” said his high school hoop coach Danny Holzer. “He was very composed and confident.
“He wanted the ball in his hands, whether is was to make the play or to pass it to somebody who would make the hoop. He just refused to lose. He was an emotional leader for us and he kept things always positive.”
Those were just lessons Grabowski learned from the sports in which he participated.
“I’m a very competitive kid. I can’t stand losing,” he said.
“My favorite thing about basketball is just the intensity and competitiveness. Basketball taught me to forget about things quickly that aren’t in your favor. Like missing a shot. You have to forget about it immediately.”
While a short-term memory is beneficial in basketball, Grabowski didn’t miss much when he played for the Panthers. For two straight seasons, he led USC in scoring.
After a junior year, when he averaged 15 points, five rebounds and two assists an outing, Grabowski ratcheted it up a notch. He fired in 16.6 points per game. In addition to scoring, he also led in assists with 76 and rebounds with 110. He managed 27 steals.
The 6-0 senior guard guided USC to a record 17-game winning streak, not to mention a section title. The Panthers reached the Elite Eight in the WPIAL Quad-A tournament and finished 20-4 overall.
“Jordan was my favorite player to watch in the section,” said rival coach Gary Goga from Peters Township. “The kid flat out carried (USC). He was a beast this year.”
Grabowski carried the Panthers, in part, because of his deft outside shooting. He ranked No. 2 on the club and buried 48, 3-point field goals. His biggest trey lifted USC to a dramatic win, 57-56, over Norwin in the first round of the playoffs.
Grabowski’s touch comes from disciplined practice. From 10 designated spots on the court, he shoots until he makes 10 one-handed shots. “I don’t know where I got my accurate shooting. Definitely not from my dad,” said the 19-year-old son of David and Reci Grabowski. “He was a slasher, not a shooter. I guess I would have to say it’s from my practice routine.”
While practice made perfect for Grabowski, the Panthers enjoyed success this season because they got along perfectly. That made the year especially enjoyable for Grabowski.
“This definitely was my most favorite,” he said. “Our team had a connection like no other team I’ve been a part of. It was good. We have made some friendships that will last forever. That’s why I think we played so well.”
The Panthers played well up until their disappointing defeat to Seneca Valley. In that season-ending loss to the Raiders, 44-34, Grabowski fired in 16 points.
“We just couldn’t make a basket against Seneca Valley,” said Grabowski of that nightmare contest where the Panthers missed their first 14 shots and shot less than 35 percent from the field.
While Grabowski “wished” he and his Panthers could have had a shot at WPIAL champion and PIAA runner-up New Castle in the playoffs, he has a couple shots to put on a scholastic uniform again before embarking on his collegiate career. Grabowski was selected to play in several post-season all-star games, including the Roundball Classic and the Hoops For the Cure.
“The Roundball Classic has been one of my motivations since my freshman year,” he said. “I’m excited to play in these all-star games.”
Grabowski is equally excited about his college prospects. Allegheny, Penn State-Behrend, Thiel and Westminster have offered him an education. Grabowski hopes to study business and management. “In the future, I’d like to possibly own my own sports team or coach at a high level with other small business things on the side,” he said.
To date, there is nothing small about Grabowski’s accomplishments. While leading his Panthers to success, he garnered his own accolades. A two-time, all-section performer, he concludes his scholastic career at The Almanac’s MVP for boys’ basketball.
“It’s truly an honor,” he said of the distinction. “I am grateful to have received this recognition. There are a lot of good players out there. So this means a lot.”
Who: Jordan Grabowski
School: Upper St. Clair
Parents: Reci and David
Sibling: Shanel, 22, a senior at Washington and Jefferson College, and Taylor, a 16-year-old sophomore at USC.
College choices: Allegheny, Penn State-Behrend, Thiel, Westminster.
Majors: Business and management
Favorite food: Chinese
Favorite color: White
Favorite class: History. The class was taught by hoop coach Danny Holzer.
Twitter or Facebook? Twitter, no doubt. It’s much more entertaining.
How will the Pirates fare? “I don’t think they will make it far. We need a big hitter other than McCutchen.
Will the Pens win the Stanley Cup? “I can’t say if they’re going to win it all but I hope they do. I think they will make it real far. We have a pretty good team. Even though Crosby is hurt, I still think we will be fine.”