Sendell blazing his way toward 1,000 points

Lawrence men's basketball action Brad Sendell
Lawrence's Brad Sendell is quickly closing in on 1,000 points for his career.

Brad Sendell has always thought of himself as a pass-first type of basketball player.

While that still holds true in Sendell's mind, other teams surely have a different take on the Lawrence University standout guard since he has been lighting up opponents like a pinball machine lately.

A junior from Pacific Grove, California, Sendell led the Midwest Conference in scoring at 23.3 points per game heading into Saturday's contest against Ripon College at Alexander Gymnasium. He is shooting 46 percent from the floor and ranks third in the MWC in 3-point shooting at 40.3 percent.

"I was always a point guard," Sendell said. "Coming here I've really worked on my jump shot. I could always get to the basket, but being more consistent with the jumper is something I needed to work on."

Sendell came into a situation with a new coach, Zach Filzen, taking the reins of the program. It rapidly became apparent that getting Sendell to commit to the Vikings was a major priority.

"When I got the job here, (assistant coach Ryan Wockenfus) mentioned that there was this kid in the mix and it was down to us and four other programs," Filzen said. "We were able to land him late, and we were excited. We thought he would really help us. I joke around with Brad about this because he was even better than we expected."

Sendell joined the Vikings in the fall of 2018 after attending Monterey Peninsula College for a year after high school. He has already amassed 934 points in his career, and with five games left in the regular season, will almost certainly become the first player in Lawrence history to score 1,000 points in just two seasons.

"My girlfriend told me about it," Sendell said with a laugh about closing in on 1,000 points. "I didn't know I was near that."

Boasting a 20.8 career scoring average, Sendell has been superb over the last three games. He's averaging 28.3 points while shooting 50.9 percent from the floor, including 55.6 percent from 3-point range.

"When I watched his highlights and his film, I could tell he had a knack for scoring," Filzen said. "He's crafty, good explosion. He can get to the rim almost at will. With his shooting this season, he's become also most un-guardable. … He's a great example of what happens when you really put the work in over the summer. He's gone from being a very good player to an elite player."

Sendell has scored at least 25 points in 11 games this season, and that includes a career-best 34-point performance at Grinnell College. The point guard in Sendell comes out in every game as he has led the team in assists in eight contests this season. He ranks 11th in the MWC at 2.9 assists per game.

"I love getting my teammates involved, especially early in the game," Sendell said. "If I can get it to Mason (Materna) or Bryce (Denham) and they knock down a three, that can help set the tone for the game."

While the Vikings have been staggered a few times this season, Sendell believes in the squad. At 9-11 overall and 5-8 in the MWC going into Saturday's game, Lawrence needs an exceptionally strong finish to have a shot at making the four-team MWC Tournament.

"The goal is to get back to the conference tournament. Once you get there, anything can happen," Sendell said. "Getting to the conference tournament, winning a championship, playing in the NCAA Tournament, those are all things this team has its sights set on."