Nathan Reuvers’ growth almost mirrors that of the Lakeville North boys’ basketball program.
The Panthers started their run of consecutive Class 4A state tournament appearances in 2012. Reuvers was a seventh-grader at the time, two years before getting pushed around as a freshman on the sophomore team.
“When I was younger I always got pushed around on the block on offense,” Reuvers said. “I was 6-5, but only 160 to 170 pounds.”
It also marked the season when he grew the most. The senior forward is now 6-10 and weighs between 205 and 210 pounds.
“After that season my sophomore coach told me I had the potential to be a great player but I was really going to have to work hard,” Reuvers said.
Reuvers took that advice to heart. He committed to Wisconsin last May.
“Nathan has made steady progress during his whole high school career,” Panthers coach John Oxton said. “He became much more serious about basketball after his sophomore year, and has made great progress the past two years.”
Defense has never been an issue for Reuvers, who has always been counted on to take advantage of his height in the paint.
“Defensively, his shot blocking ability has been very important to our team,” Oxton said. “We are able to take more chances knowing he will always be there to protect the rim.”
Where Reuvers needed to develop was on the offensive end of the floor. He had a tendency to hang around the perimeter because of his slight frame.
“I was always working on my three-point shots,” Reuvers said. “The more I’ve gained weight, the bigger presence I’ve had in the post.”
Reuvers has developed his all-around game on both ends of the floor. He averaged 26 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots per game heading into Friday’s section final. He is second on the school’s all-time career scoring list and leads in rebounds and blocked shots.
“Nathan has improved in so many ways,” Oxton said. “The most impressive to me is that he has been willing to do anything we have asked him to do. He is very much a team player, and that has been huge for us this year.”
Reuvers is quick to point out the importance of his teammates, and not just his fellow starters.
“We have a red and white team that plays against each other every day,” Reuvers said. “The red is the varsity players and the white is the junior varsity that doesn’t get to play much in games. Sometimes they kick our butt and make us look bad.”
He has been joined in the starting lineup by seniors Ethan Igbanugo, Jalen Lucas and Trevor Schermann and sophomore Tyler Wahl during his final season. Schermann will play college football at St. Thomas while the other three will be on the court at the collegiate level.
“Nathan is surrounded by very good players,” Oxton said. “It has been so fun to see him interact with his teammates on a daily basis. He is a team player first, and we are so thankful for that.”
Reuvers also is one of the top students in his class with a grade-point average over 4.0 while taking many advanced placement classes.
“He takes his responsibility as a student-athlete very seriously,” Oxton said. “Nathan will be very successful in anything he chooses. He is a high achiever in every area of his life.”