2,000 points was not handed to Eugene German

Senior Eugene German (10, center)shoots over a RedHawk defender Feb. 1 during NIU’s 70-55 win over the Miami University-Ohio RedHawks at the Convocation Center.

Mike Knapp

DeKALB — Eugene German’s ascent up the NIU men’s basketball career scoring list started innocently enough with two points against Indiana State University in his first game Nov. 11, 2016.

Just over three years and 115 games later, his journey to the top is complete. With 21 points in a 70-55 win over Miami University–Ohio Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center, the senior guard passed T.J. Lux to become the school’s all-time leading scorer. 

{{tncms-inline alignment=”center” content=”<p><span>“When I saw the [record breaker] go in, I thought ‘wow, I really did this. It’s amazing.’ It was just about staying the course, putting in hard work and believing in myself. My mom told me that I just had to let everything play out, to keep putting in the work, and that’s what I did. I didn’t come here trying to achieve that goal; it just happened as the result of the work I have put in.”</span></p>” id=”2f187862-ad97-4407-a4e0-e8c63a64d754″ style-type=”quote” title=”pull quote” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

Lux, who played for the Huskies from 1995-2000, finished his career with 1,996 points. German, who entered the day with 1,979 points, finished the day at exactly 2,000 points.

“This is a blessing,” German said. “I couldn’t have done this without my teammates and coaches. I want to give a huge shoutout to Coach [Mark Montgomery] for believing in me and bringing me here.”

The first 25 minutes of the game were a bit frustrating for German. After scoring seven early points, he was shut out the rest of the first half and went to the bench with two personal fouls with 3:02 to go before the break.

It was more of the same in the first five minutes of the second half as German had one basket on two shots. It was a steal that led to an emphatic dunk on the other end that got him going.

A minute later he was fouled on a made layup and added the free throw for the old-fashioned 3-point play, adding another steal and dunk to put him on the brink of the record. 

With 6:39 to go in the game, German finally got the record on a driving, twisting, hanging layup in traffic, setting off a celebration on the bench as well as in the stands, where a season-high 1,492 fans were in attendance.

He later capped his night with a contested 3-pointer from the left corner to become the 11th player in Mid-American Conference history to score 2,000 points. 

 German’s flurry of points, combined with four of his six assists on the day, helped the Huskies push their lead to as high as 19 points to help them to their fourth straight win.

“When I saw the [record breaker] go in, I thought ‘wow, I really did this,’” German said. “It’s amazing. It was just about staying the course, putting in hard work and believing in myself. My mom told me that I just had to let everything play out, to keep putting in the work, and that’s what I did. I didn’t come here trying to achieve that goal; it just happened as the result of the work I have put in.”

German, who twice led the state of Indiana in scoring in high school, brought the mentality of a prolific scorer to NIU. The effort he made when no one was around is just as much a part of his legacy at NIU than what shows up on the scoreboard or in the record book.

“It’s not a one-year record; it’s a four-year thing,” Montgomery said. “Many a night he has closed this building when the lights were shutting off and he was still here. This was warranted; he put a lot of time into it.”

Getting to 2,000 points isn’t easy; it requires skill, health and a ton of consistency. German, who scored just 279 points as a first-year player, scored 20.6 points per game as a sophomore, 20.4 as a junior, and is sitting at 19.5 points through 22 games this season.

He’s working on a streak of 29 games with double-figure scoring and has scored in double figures in 92 of his past 94 games. 

In a historical perspective, NIU has been playing basketball since 1900, and German has more points than anyone who has ever played in a Huskie uniform. The MAC has been around since 1946, and only 10 people have scored more. If he scores at his average the rest of the season, he could finish his career third or fourth on the MAC list.

In Division 1college basketball, he is eighth in career points among active players, and his season points per game average is 37th nationally. In other words, German is one of the elite scorers in the game, and at NIU, a once-in-a-generation talent.

He’s accomplished a lot, but there is still a lot left to do. At 6-3 in the MAC West, the Huskies hit the midway point of the conference schedule in the hunt to win the West division and get a pass to the MAC quarterfinals in March at Cleveland.

He’s made history but is looking to make some more. A 20-win season, the Huskies’ first since 2012-13, is a possibility, and a hot weekend in Cleveland could put this team in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996.

“It’s good to get individual accolades, but it’s a team sport,” German said. “We need to just keep putting in the work and keep believing in our coaching staff.”

German’s career is coming to a close, as he has about a dozen games left in his time at NIU. In the meantime, enjoy this. Come to the games, support the team, appreciate Eugene German. Players like him don’t come around all that often.