When your team has only won five games all season long, finding the positive in a trying year is a must. Junior Nik Garcia says he is and learning along the way.
The 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Niles (lll.) High School said he has learned a lot about himself this year.
"When I get to college I'll be able to handle things like this," Garcia said. "I think making everyone better around me is the best thing that has happened to me this season."
The junior is averaging 23 points per game this season and trying to improve his skill set heading into the spring and summer for AAU.
"I'm pretty much playing every position out there," Garcia said. "I'm trying to run all of the options in our offense.
"A lot of people think that I'm just a shooter. This year I've been doing way more. In AAU, I'm pretty much a shooter but I'm looking forward to showing that I'm doing more than just that."
With offers from Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, Valpo, Akron and Illinois State, Garcia is an obvious must-get for the mid-level programs. Garcia says he is trying to keep his options open though.
"There are a lot of people making their way down here but I'm still completely wide open," Garcia said.
Iowa is "very close to offering," Garcia says while Kentucky, Virginia, Michigan, Penn State, Maryland, Kansas State "and a lot of the Big Ten" are interested. Garcia unofficially visited Michigan, Iowa and Southern Illinois in the fall.
Iowa has stood out, Garcia said.
"Even though they haven't offered, they've been telling me that they are real interested," he said. "I've always wanted to play in the Big Ten because I've been watching them ever since I was little kid with my dad."
His AAU coach Michael Weinstein with Rising Stars program said he believes Garcia is in for a big spring and summer, too.
"Nik has a chance to be a pretty good player," Weinstein said. "I'm expecting big things out of him. If he can mature as a person, he's going to be a great player. He has great size. He's almost 6-6 and when he's hot, you can put a tree in front of him and he's going to hit shots.
"We're trying to get him focused on all facets of the game and become a better player all-around. I'm excited to see what kind of player he is going to be this spring and summer. If he does what he is supposed to, he's going to be in a very good situation. He'll have plenty of offers."