By VINCE PELUSO — firstname.lastname@example.org
After solidifying himself as one of the top players in Lakeside boys basketball history and becoming only the second Dragon boys player to score more than 1,000 points, Cody Blizzard is moving on to the next level, deciding to continue his basketball career and education at Heidelberg.
“I’m pretty excited,” Blizzard said. “I knew that they looked at me after the first game of the year with Cleveland Heights. I went and watched them against Mount Union. Then when went I there for an overnight visit, that put me over the top. I could tell it was a very good situation for me.”
The sense of community and the overall campus at Heidelberg were big draws for the 2012 Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Ashtabula County Co-Player of the Year.
“(I) really like the campus,” he said. “It’s kind of small but bigger for Division III. All the people over there are really nice. Not even knowing I was a recruit or anything, everyone came up to me and introduced themselves; the people were just real friendly.
“I could tell the coaches and the team is like a family and that’s something I was really looking for. Being so far away from home I thought that (family atmosphere) was really important.”
The son of Shauna and Tom Blizzard, joked that his mom said he wanted to get as far from home as possible (Heidelberg is about three hours from Ashtabula), but he said that wasn’t the case.
He simply felt that it was the best place for him to continue his playing career, as well as his education as Blizzard plans to major in business or marketing although he isn’t 100 percent sure saying he wants to stay involved in sports, regardless of his major.
“It’s kind of how it worked out (picking a school far from home),” he said. “My mom thought I wanted to get as far away as possible, but that’s not how it was. I just liked the situation over there.”
Blizzard said his parents, as well as his grandparents, played important roles in his development as a player as well as helping with the recruiting process.
“They’re there through everything,” he said. “They’ve supported me since I picked up a basketball. They took the time out to go to AAU tournaments, pay for hotels, get me new shoes when I needed them, just everything. My grandparents are a big part of that, too.
“Just the support I’ve gotten from my family is awesome. They want the best for me and have been there through everything.”
Blizzard also credited his AAU coach, Brian Webber, whom he played for five seasons, as an important part of his career.
AAU basketball is important for any player looking to go to the next level, but for Blizzard he felt it was important in helping him become a better high school player by exposing him to some of the best talent in the country.
“I think it’s definitely more competitive than high school,” he said. “Just some of the talent you see. We played this one team that had five kids going Division I. They had kids going to Duke and North Carolina. It’s something special to see these guys in magazines and be able to say you played against them.
“But overall, I think it helped me prepare better for high school. I enjoyed it. I got to travel. We Went to West Virginia, New York and Virginia. It was great.”
The versatile Dragons’ star said he was told he’ll have an opportunity to start as the Student Prince’s small forward next season if he continues to improve his game.
“I’m definitely going to be lifting, I’ve been lifting off and on, I’m just waiting for their workout packet to start doing their program,” he said. “I’m going to be doing a lot of lateral drills to help my defense. I’ll start working on dribbling drills, just shooting and a lot of the stuff I’ve always done before in the offseason.”
Reflecting on his Lakeside career, Blizzard said he was proud to share his accomplishment of breaking the 1,000-point barrier with his former teammate, Emilio Parks.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “Going into the season, I knew I needed so much points and my mom and coach told me what I needed. It was in the back of my mind. It was a goal, but not a top goal.
“But once I got it, it felt really good to be on the list of some of the best players in Ashtabula County history. Especially to be on there with Emilio because he was my teammate.”
This past season the Dragons fell short of some of their own expectations, going 13-7 in the regular season before bowing out in the first round of the postseason.
Blizzard’s season was also marred by a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules, something he said he not only learned from, but hoped his younger teammates could learn from.
“I really learned to be wiser in my choices,” he said. “But I was more focused on trying to help the guys that are going to play varsity next year. I told them, ‘you saw what happened to me, I’m supposed to be a leader. I’m in trouble and I had to miss games and that shouldn’t happened.’ It’s just a message to all of them to watch what you do because there are consequences.”
Blizzard won’t be alone at Heidelberg. He said he learned this week that his teammate at Lakeside, and Star Beacon Ashtabula County Player of the Year, Harry Story, will be joining him on the Student Prince’s team next year.
“The program is doing fairly well (Heidelberg is coming off a 7-18 season),” he said. “I think they’re looking at a lot of good recruits. Harry’s going there. Another kid I played AAU with is going there.
“(Graduate assistant) Aaron Nixon told me this week we got all them so we should be really good the next few years.
“(Harry’s) like my brother. It’s great to see we’re going to be together for four years.”
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