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Maywood, 01/25/13--Leyden's Nicholas Best goes up for a basket as Proviso East's Parrish McCullum defends. Proviso East High School hosted Leyden High School in boys basketball Friday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
One area Leyden basketball coach Bill Heisler wasn’t sure about this season was having a low-post presence.
Junior Nicholas Best has more than quelled that concern.
“He’s really provided the rebounding and toughness facet that we didn’t know what we were going to have coming in,” Heisler said. “He has all those muscles and he uses them to rebound. We have to get him to finish a little better and he knows that the next step in his game is a little bit more scoring. He’s a kid that does everything you ask him to do every night and that goes a long way.”
The 6-foot-4 center is in his first varsity season, but has been a reliable starter all season for the Eagles.
“Being in the starting lineup means I’m doing my job,” Best said. “I’m doing anything I can to help our team win the game. I want to help get our team as far as possible. I want to be a low-post presence and someone that can grab rebounds. I just want to fill out the role of the big-man spot.”
Heisler is confident Best’s scoring will come.
Best scored just two points in Leyden’s 78-34 West Suburban Gold loss to Morton Friday in Franklin Park, but he contributed six rebounds and two steals.
“He brings aggressiveness,” Leyden senior point guard Jayqual Jackson said. “He plays strong and is our best man in the paint, so he brings a lot to our offense. He especially helps a lot on defense.”
Leyden (14-8) will graduate a talented senior class after this season. Heisler believes Best is ready to take on a leadership role as a senior.
“He’s such a great kid and a great student,” Heisler said. “He’s a program kid. He’s been coming to summer camps since he was a little kid. When you get to know him as a person, you can’t do much better than that. We don’t have 14 wins if it wasn’t for Nick. He’s been a big part of that.
“He’s getting a ton of minutes and a ton of experience. A year from now he’s going to be the leader of the group.”
Best appreciates the confidence his coach has in him and is relishing his opportunity to play varsity for the Eagles.
“It gives me the security that I can just go out and play my game,” Best said. “Ever since freshman year when I saw the varsity play, I wanted to be out on the floor doing the same thing. I want to help take the team to the next level.”~.