Collin Sonderman’s method of thinking warm thoughts is to visualize himself attending college in the coastal city of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Having been to Wilmington with family on a few occasions, Roncalli’s 6-foot-10, 250-pound senior center is going to attempt to walk on to the UNC-Wilmington men’s basketball team next fall.
However, before Sonderman goes all sun and sand, the Rebels have a minimum of eight games remaining this season.
Throughout that closing stretch, the Greenwood resident’s broad shoulders will be tested like never before.
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On Jan. 13, senior point guard Christian Stewart, Roncalli’s leading scorer this season, broke his tibia in the third quarter of the team’s 48-41 loss to eventual champion Pike at the annual Marion County tournament.
“We were 10-2 going into that game,” said Sonderman, a two-year starter averaging 11.9 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Rebels. “It’s just tough right now because we’re in sort of a transitional phase.”
Since losing Stewart and his averages — 15.6 points, 4 assists and 1.7 steals — for the remainder of the season, Roncalli sandwiched losses to Guerin Catholic and Center Grove around a 10-point home conquest of New Palestine.
The schedule refuses to lighten up for the Rebels (11-5), who host Indianapolis Ritter on Friday and travel to Greenwood on Saturday. Roncalli’s last four regular-season opponents — including Franklin, who the Rebels host on Feb. 14 — carry a combined record of 34-17.
Roncalli then takes part in the Decatur Central Sectional along with perennial powers Pike and Ben Davis, among others.
“We’re going to lean on Collin a little more,” said 15th-year Roncalli coach Michael Wantz, whose program is on track for what would be its fourth consecutive winning season and 13th in the coach’s tenure.
“Collin has great hands and catches almost everything we throw at him. And he’s pretty good at finishing around the basket.”
Sonderman’s family resides in the Whiteland school district.
Always taller than his classmates, he attended Our Lady of the Greenwood from kindergarten through eighth grade.
“My dad always says that I was big even when I was little,” Sonderman said with a laugh. “Other kids were scared of me the first time my parents took me to preschool, but I fit in.”
Sonderman measured an even 6 feet as a seventh-grader, but he had sprouted to 6-8 by the time he started his freshman school year at Roncalli.
Unable to play basketball as a ninth-grader after undergoing spinal fusion surgery that December, Sonderman came off the bench as a sophomore to average 4.6 points and 4 boards.
During the 2015-16 season, his first as a starter, Sonderman averaged 10.6 points and seven rebounds. The Rebels hold a record of 40-20 since Sonderman began his varsity basketball career.
In December, Sonderman scored 25 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the Rebels’ 53-43 victory over the host Hilltoppers in the title game of the Floyd Central Tournament.
Sonderman was voted the tourney’s Most Valuable Player.
“I think Collin is having a really good season. And he’s getting a lot more (defensive) attention than he’s had in the past,” Wantz said. “Collin has really improved his agility and footwork.
“His maturity of just not letting things get to him has gotten better, too.”
Name: Collin Sonderman
Family: Parents Andy and Ann; brother Nathan, 20; sister, Emily 14
Favorite TV show: “The Office”
Favorite food: Buffalo wings
Favorite movie: “The Shawshank Redemption”
Favorite athlete: Kevin Love
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts