OTTAWA LAKE, Mich. — Colin Lake’s physical stature is far from imposing.
The Whiteford senior stands barely 5-foot-8 in his sneakers and weighs only 140 pounds; but he’s no ball boy.
But, boy, he can play basketball.
The Bobcats point guard is working on earning a third straight Michigan Class C all-state first-team designation, averaging 30.1 points per game for the Bobcats (7-3).
What clearly separates him from others is his ability to shoot. Few others in Whiteford history have played at such a high level for four years. He ranks No. 2 all-time on the school’s career scoring list with 1,466 points, trailing only Eddie Sharpe (1,693).
Lake is on pace to have his best single-season scoring average. He averaged 24.1 points as a junior, 22.8 as a sophomore and 12.7 in his freshman season.
“He’s got good court vision, good instincts, and I always like to coach and up-tempo game, and he certainly fits that,” Whiteford coach Jim Ross said. “He’s a great shooter, but he’s a great scorer more than a pure shooter.”
Considering he is often the smallest player on the court, the size of his opponents became less of an obstacle for Lake.
“I’ve been playing with guys taller than me my whole life so I had to find different ways to score,” Lake said. “I learned how to get the ball high on the glass, getting away from people, and getting full extention on my layups and floaters.
“Just by me being little my whole life I found different ways to get around that and scoring on bigger guys.”
His scoring prowess reached a high point earlier this season when he pumped in a career-high 44 points in a 70-63 victory at Whitmore Lake.
The Tri-Country Conference teams met again Friday, and he scored 37 points, but this time the Trojans escaped with an 85-82 victory.
Whitmore Lake did what many teams attempt — keep someone close to him at all times, lean on him, bump him around. Lake walked away a little bruised around his eyes but still scoring above his average.
The physical play is nothing new. His approach to scoring partly prescribes drawing contact from opponents.
“I like to start off by getting to the basket to get things going,” Lake said. “Then I kind of get into a rhythm and the shot comes and then get to the free-throw line and just kind of bunch them together.”
He credits his father, Kevin, for teaching him how to play, particularly fundamentals. Kevin, who graduated from Tuscarawas Valley near Canton, played in college at Walsh and Findlay.
“My dad was real hard on me and made sure everything [fundamentally] was real good,” Lake said.
A three-sport standout, he’s also three-year letter-winner in football and baseball. His first organized sport in grade school was soccer.
“Since I was little I’ve always been playing sports,” Lake said. “I started out playing soccer, but once I was old enough I started playing football.”
Not one to shy away from contact, Lake has played running back and cornerback. He rushed for more than 800 yards as a junior and more than 600 as a senior.
He’s been the starting shortstop on the baseball team for two years.
Yet it’s the basketball court where he feels most at home. Besides leading the team in scoring, he averages 4.5 assists per game and a team-leading 6.0 steals.
“You can be good, but if you want to get to that next level, you have to put the time into it,” Lake said. “You’ve got to get into the gym as much as you can.”
Ross, who is in his eighth season at Whiteford and has spent nearly 20 years in coaching, considers Lake a rare find.
“I haven’t coached a lot of players that have had all the abilities in one package that he has,” Ross said. “He works hard, and he’s very competitive. He hates to lose and will do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen often.”
Lake, who has a 3.8 grade-point average, has received some interest from a few small colleges. He is considering North Park University (Chicago), Millikan University (Decatur, Ill.), and Albion College in Michigan.
“Colin’s a very academic student, so he’s looking first for academics,” Ross said. “If he wants to play [basketball] I’m sure he will.
“I don’t think he’ll be able to go to a Division I school because of the size, but certainly a D-II or a NAIA or Division III school, he’ll do just fine.”