Anyone lucky enough to be inside the DeSimone Gymnasium on Feb. 12, 2009, witnessed quite possibly the greatest individual performance in the history of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside men's basketball program.
Fifty-two points in 29 minutes.
The numbers almost defy logic, but that's exactly what UW-P senior forward LaVontay Fenderson did in the Rangers' 84-82 loss to Saint Joseph's College. Fenderson's 52 points tied a UW-P single-game record, first set by Andy Schmidtmann on Feb. 14, 1989. And though Fenderson's difficult three-point shot at the buzzer didn't go in, denying him what he really wanted that night -- a victory -- the performance was something nobody will ever forget.
"That type of production, that's video-game type of production," UW-P head coach Luke Reigel said. "You just don't have something like that go on very often, no matter what level of basketball it is."
What made Fenderson's 52 points even more remarkable was that they came in so few minutes. Fenderson was called for his third foul with 18 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the game, and since college basketball rules make a player receiving five fouls in one game ineligible for the rest of that game, Reigel had to limit Fenderson's playing time to prevent him from fouling out.
So scoring 52 points in just 29 minutes of play (college basketball games last 40 minutes of regulation time) is individual scoring output not often witnessed at any level.
"Really, I'm just amazed at what I did," Fenderson said after the UW-P men's basketball team practiced on Tuesday. "At this point, I still can't even believe that I scored that many points in 29 minutes."
That single game is a microcosm of what has been a tremendous season for Fenderson.
Though Fenderson would certainly prefer the Rangers' record to be better than 6-19 overall (2-14 in Great Lakes Valley Conference play) heading into Thursday's game against Lewis University at the DeSimone Gymnasium, his senior season has put him in a position he never thought he'd be in when he first came to UW-P.
He's now a professional basketball prospect.
"It wasn't something that I really wanted to keep doing," Fenderson confessed when asked if eventually playing professional basketball was a goal of his entering UW-P. "But now that the opportunity is here, I'm trying to jump on it as much as I can."
Fenderson said thoughts of playing professional basketball first entered his mind while working out with his brother, LaQuan (a member of the UW-P men's cross country team), this summer.
After graduating from Racine St. Catherine's, Fenderson chose to redshirt during his freshman year at UW-P.
Fenderson's basketball prowess has improved in each of those four years since his freshman year, to the point that he's now one of the top players in all of NCAA Division-2. (The NCAA has three divisions for college basketball, generally based on size of school enrollment. Parkside is classified as Division-2). Fenderson is averaging 25.8 points per game this season, tops among all NCAA Division-2 men's basketball players, and has jumped to second on UW-P's all-time scoring list behind Abdul Jeelani, who played at UW-P from 1972-75.
In turn, professional scouts have taken notice.
"I think there's no question that he's going to have a chance to play professionally after school," Reigel said. "Where and when we're not necessarily sure, but we've had enough contact from different people that want either highlight tapes of him or want to come see him play, that I think there's definitely going to be opportunities there."
The fact that one of his players has a great chance to play professionally is not lost on Reigel when it comes to recruiting new players for his program.
"Any kids that want to play professionally after their college career, what that does is that makes us a more viable option," Reigel said.
Professional basketball spans much more than just the National Basketball Association. There are numerous professional leagues overseas on various continents, and many standout collegiate basketball players have gone on to long and successful basketball careers in Europe, for example. Most likely, a professional basketball career for Fenderson will involve playing in a different country, though Reigel said NBA scouts have expressed some interest in Fenderson.
"If there's a team out there that's very interested in me, I definitely would try that first," Fenderson said without hesitation when asked if he's hopeful of getting even a small NBA look.
Right now, it's a feeling-out process for both Fenderson and Reigel. Nothing has been decided yet, but both coach and player are taking the initial steps to find Fenderson the proper agent when his collegiate career is over and eventually seek out the most lucrative and fitting destination to play.
"The biggest thing we want to do is make sure that he ends up in a good situation," Reigel said. "We're trying to do our research, just to make sure that he ends up with somebody that's looking out for his best interests."
That said, Fenderson still has some time left to enjoy not only his athletic life, but also his academic and social life, as he nears the end of his tenure at UW-P. A self-admitted fan of detective and crime shows, Fenderson is a criminal justice major scheduled to receive his degree in May.
Playing professional basketball is certainly a tenuous career, and Fenderson expressed interest in eventually being a police officer or working in the parole or probation fields when his basketball career ends or if it doesn't work out.
With a smile, he added that he'd love to be one of the finest basketball players in the FBI.
On the court, Fenderson said he couldn't ask for a better experience than the one he's had at UW-P. His athletic highlight, he says, was not his 52-point game, but rather when UW-P reached its first-ever NCAA Division-2 Men's Basketball Tournament in Fenderson's sophomore season.
But his off-the-court highlights have been just as memorable. When it comes to classes and social life, Fenderson -- who lived in the residence halls his first two years before moving to off-campus housing -- has nothing but high praise for UW-P.
"I love the school," he said. "It's the perfect school for me. Small classes, get to know people. I've had a great experience here. I couldn't have been at a better place."