A year spent rehabbing led to some pent-up energy for Derek Novsek.
After not playing basketball as a junior, the Bishop Manogue senior has come on strong this season, helping the Miners to a 7-1 league record, 13-4 overall.
He’s averaging 19 points per game, six rebounds and three steals.
Novsek had to sit out all last season after suffering a torn left labrum (shoulder) while playing basketball at the Boys & Girls Club in Reno. That injury led to shoulder surgery, which led to physical therapy. Recovery took a while. He was cleared to dribble, then to shoot, and finally cleared to play completely at the end of March last year.
“It happened so fast. I was grabbing for the ball,” Novsek said of the injury. “It’s just one of those things that happens.”
Novsek, the son of Nevada associate head coach Doug Novsek, said it was frustrating sitting out.
“In the back of my head, I knew I’d be able to play the next year and do all the things we couldn’t accomplish last year,” he said. “That was my motivation.”
Manogue beat powerhouse Galena last week, then beat Damonte Ranch on Friday. Before Tuesday, the Miners’ last loss was Dec. 13 to Ponderosa.
Until Tuesday. Douglas beat Manogue, 56-55, in Minden. Manogue had beaten Douglas, 72-45, in early December.
“I don’t think we came out with enough energy. We didn’t play as hard defensively as we have been,” Novsek said of the loss. “We came off a big win and we kind of lost our fight a little bit. (The loss) helped remind us we’re not unstoppable; anyone can beat us.”
Playing with a ton of energy has gotten the Miners to to the top of the Sierra League this season.
That comes from a new coach, Ralph Fields, and a new attitude. Novsek was still around the team last season, even though he couldn’t play. He attended Damonte Ranch as a freshman.
“Our chemistry is a lot better. We’re more unselfish. We play a lot harder, we have better character,” Novsek said. “That wasn’t around the team last year. The energy was never as high as it is this year. We like to play with each other, unlike last year.”
Novsek, 6-foot-3, 165 pounds, hopes to play after high school, either in college or junior college. But he’s flying under the radar, thanks to his missing junior season, and has yet to receive any offers.
That could benefit colleges who like to find hidden gems.
“From what I’ve seen so far, I think he’s maybe the most recruitable player in the north,” Manogue coach Ralph Fields said. “He’s a hell of an offensive player, with room to grow. He’s really working hard to become a complete player on both ends of the court.”
Doug Novsek said he and his son talk basketball occasionally. But playing the sport is Derek’s choice.
“He can improve his speed, and he needs to get stronger for the next level,” Doug Novsek said. “He needs to keep building his game. He needs to rebound more. We always talk about rebounding.”
Earlier this month, Novsek was nominated for the McDonald’s All-American Game, one of 823 high school seniors nominated to play. The team will be announced on Wednesday.