Chandler Savage tries to break the press as Lazabian Jackson (far back) and Davon Haynes follow him during UAPB basketball practice on Thursday. (Special to The Commercial/Mike Adam)
Chandler Savage hasn’t scored in five appearances for Arkansas-Pine Bluff. He’s only played 18 minutes all season, and he has two rebounds and two steals to his credit.
But coach George Ivory said the 6-foot-1 junior guard, who graduated from Pine Bluff High, has made the Golden Lions better.
“A lot of times, you can’t see it, the things he does at practice and being on his own shooting,” Ivory said. “I think as we go on, he’s going to get more and more playing time as we go on and he learns more of the things he’s doing.”
So far, Savage has played a small part in the Lions’ campaign as a walk-on. He’s fulfilled his goal of playing Division I basketball coming out of community college, where he averaged about 11 points per game for Columbia State CC in Columbia, Tenn.
“The experience so far has been good being with coach Ivory,” Savage said. “He’s a good coach. It’s been a little hard for me to walk on, but I’m getting there.”
Before Columbia State, Savage averaged 16 points per game at Pine Bluff High. He even went head-to-head against current teammate Daniel Broughton a few times as the latter starred at Watson Chapel.
Ivory remembers watching Savage play in high school, speaking highly of his ability to play defense and make good passes.
“I think he brings a lot of great basketball IQ,” Ivory said. “I think he’s a guy who, playing under coach (Ronald) Moragne, understands defense. (Moragne) does a great job teaching defense and man-to-man and just defensive principle. I think that’s one thing he’s (Savage) going to bring to us and help us in that capacity.”
Right now, Savage patiently waits for that opportunity in a game, playing behind a number of standout guards such as Lazabian Jackson, Marcel Mosley and Tevin Hammond.
“Basketball is just like a job; you have to put in the work to get better,” Savage said. “Being in the gym myself when no one else is looking, that’s how I figure you get better.
“Playing with Lazabian and Tevin really helps me out. By them being here, they give me a couple of pointers.”
So far, Ivory is happy with the contributions Savage has already made.
“He’s a guy who comes in and works hard every day and does what you ask him to do,” he said. “He’s really made us a lot better.”