Riniker looks to Wisconsin to continue hoops career | SteamboatToday.com

Riniker looks to Wisconsin to continue hoops career

Steamboat senior Ethan Riniker will attend school and play basketball at Saint Norbert College in Wisconsin.

— Ethan Riniker said he's happy now. He said he didn't let the search for a college where he could continue his basketball career dominate his senior year at Steamboat Springs High School.

He didn't even fully launch the search until the end of his stellar senior season with the Sailors, and he started tepidly, emailing and calling a few coaches and Division 3 schools around the country.

Within two months, he had his answer: Saint Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

No question, however, the process wasn't easy.

"It was stressful," Riniker said Thursday. "I took a lot of college visits. I was missing a couple days of school here and there just going to look at each one that had some interest, but once I found the right fit, it was good. I went back for a second visit, just to make sure, and committed on that visit."

Saint Norbert College proved the right fit.

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Riniker dipped his toes in the water with a few Division 2 schools after his junior season but likely would have had to either redshirt or walk on.

"And I didn't want to be in school for five years," he said.

Riniker said the Saint Norbert system reminded him of Steamboat's, and if he can have similar success there to the success he had in Steamboat, the Green Knights are in for a steal.

Riniker led the Sailors with 15.8 points per game, third in the Western Slope League in scoring. His 7.8 rebounds per game was also best on the team and fifth in the conference. He was second on the team in steals and first in blocks and assists, and he led the way as the squad won its last six regular season games to come from behind to capture the Western Slope League championship.

He did enough along the way to earn league player of the year honors.

"I definitely enjoyed it," Riniker said of his time as a Sailor. "I have good memories of the town itself and the basketball program, nothing but fond memories."

The dream of playing in college first struck Riniker as a sophomore, when he said he started to grow into his body.

"I thought I could make it if I kept working really hard," he said.

He did continue working hard, and it all paid off as he'll continue his career in Wisconsin.

"I'm excited," he said. "It's just a great team bond I'll have. I'll be friends and brothers with these guys the rest of my life. I'll have another group of guys I can have that bond with. Obviously, the game is fun to play, and I'm pretty good at it."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9