Nick Noskowiak is in a new city. Again. It’s his plan to make Dodge City, Kansas, his home for the next year.
Noskowiak has been a bit of a transient the past 10 months, attending three colleges in three states. Now, he’s hoping Dodge City Community College, which is a junior college, is the right fit for him to settle in, grow as a person and get back to what he does best: dominate on the basketball court.
This is Noskowiak’s fourth college program he has committed to since graduating from Sun Prairie High School in 2015. Noskowiak hasn’t played in a competitive basketball game since high school. It’s been off-court issues that have kept the 19-year-old on the sideline.
“The couple bad decisions I made are definitely gone,” said Noskowiak via phone following a workout on July 12, only his second day on campus at Dodge City Community College. “I definitely learned from what I’ve done. ... I feel like there’s nothing I can’t handle now.”
Noskowiak, who was widely considered a top-100 recruit and one of the best point guards in the country coming out of high school, is itching to get back on the court. In that time away from playing competitively, Noskowiak’s game has changed.
“I’d say I changed in that I got better, more hungry,” Noskowiak said. “I lost what I loved, so I think I definitely have a lot more drive than I did then because I didn’t ever think anything was going to happen, where I would lose it, lose the ability to play. I’ve definitely got a lot more drive and motivation.”
It’s been a whirlwind past year and a half for Noskowiak.
During his sophomore year at Sun Prairie, Noskowiak verbally committed to play at Marquette University. In his final season with the Cardinals, Noskowiak only played in nine of his team’s 24 games because of personal and family issues. Before he even stepped on campus at Marquette, he was released from his national letter of intent with the school in February 2015. Noskowiak shopped around for another college and chose national powerhouse Iowa State University in April of that year. In two separate incidents spanning four months, Noskowiak was arrested for drunk driving and also charged with reckless driving and endangering safety. After his second run in with the law, Noskowiak was released from Iowa State in August 2015.
Did Noskowiak almost feel invincible and that his dreams couldn’t be take away?
“No, I never felt like that. I made bad decisions,” Noskowiak said. “I knew that after I made a bad decision it would have repercussions. I definitely didn’t feel invincible because I had gotten in trouble before.”
After stepping away from college and working for four months, Noskowiak decided he wanted to enroll in school again and play ball, so he headed to Gulf Coast State College, a junior college in Panama City, Fla., in January of this year. Noskowiak was forced to redshirt since he didn’t attend school in the first semester, but after the second semester ended in May, Noskowiak decided to leave the college. He returned home to Sun Prairie and worked out with area coach James Weber in preparation for his next step.
Now, Noskowiak is in a new place with a fresh slate at Dodge City Community College. He’s still a freshman eligibility-wise since he hasn’t played one possession of college basketball.
Noskowiak said it hasn’t been tough not being able to play ball yet in college, but it gives him motivation to succeed.
“It definitely makes me work harder,” Noskowiak said. “I’m just kind of taking everything as it comes. Anything that’s already happened is out of my control.
“I’m thankful for an opportunity to be able to do what I love every day. It’s only my second day here, but I’m looking forward to doing what I love every day.”
After leaving Gulf Coast State College, Noskowiak garnered interest from some smaller Division I programs and took an official visit to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in April. Most college coaches told Noskowiak that if he wants to play D-I ball, he needs play at least one season at the junior college level and work his way back up.
Does Noskowiak need to show college coaches he can still play and his off-court issues won’t resurface?
“I’m not sure, that’s obviously for them to decide,” Noskowiak said. “I’ve got to focus on what I can control and obviously doing the right things.”
Noskowiak was contacted by Dodge City Community College head coach Kyle Campbell in April and by May, Noskowiak had committed to the school.
“When I started recruiting Nick, I just said, ‘That’s behind you. We’re starting a new chapter,’” Campbell said. “He’s done everything we have asked of him and it’s been great. He knows what lies ahead. He knows how good he can be. He knows what basketball can do for him – it can take care of his education. He’s been great. I like being around him every single day.”
When Campbell started recruiting Noskowiak, he wasn’t concerned about his future player’s off-court issues.
“When you talk to guys, you can tell, and I just had a feel that he was ready to roll,” Campbell said. “Whatever people want to say out there, but that stuff just doesn’t worry me.”
Campbell didn’t guarantee Noskowiak any playing time when he signed to play at Dodge City Community College. Noskowiak will have to work for everything he gets.
“I tell all the guys, if you come in here and do what I think you can do, there’s going to be a lot of minutes for them to play,” Campbell said. “Nick’s a guy in the same way. He’s been working his butt off these last three days and it just shows his work ethic. If he keeps working like that, he’s going to be a major, major part of what we do next year.”
One big draw for Noskowiak at Dodge City Community College is that his dorm is two-tenths of a mile from the school’s 24-hour workout facility and he can walk there any time of the day or night. At Gulf Coast State College, Noskowiak said his apartment was seven miles from the gym and he didn’t have a car to drive to campus.
Noskowiak is currently on campus taking summer classes and “getting ahead of the game.” He’s already working out with teammates and hitting the court and weight room three to four hours a day. Noskowiak is excited to get back to school.
“It’s really nice to be under a set structure like that,” Noskowiak said. “I like it a lot. That’s when I’m at my best.”
Noskowiak, who has put on 10 pounds of muscle since high school and is now 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, said he is playing his best ball. Campbell has also witnessed that in his first couple days of workouts.
“You can just tell in his workouts, he gets it,” Campbell said. “He knows how to play. He gets how to play the right way. He makes everyone around him better.”
Noskowiak knows if he has a great season, he can get Division I programs knocking down his door to have him play at their school in 2017-18. Nothing is going to stand in the way of Noskowiak and his dream of playing Division I basketball and then advancing to the next level.
His new coach knows what Noskowiak is capable of when given a shot to play.
“He just needs to work hard every single day and lead by example,” Campbell said. “I told Nick everything else will take care of itself. ‘If you come here, we have a great year as a team, your recruiting’s going to take you wherever you want to go.’
“The community supports what we do; the facility supports what we do. Everybody’s in his corner and we’re going to do whatever we need to make sure he gets to that next level.”
As Noskowiak pushes all is off-court issues out of the way, the only thing he’s concentrating on is his future.
“I just want to be as successful as possible, work as hard as I did in high school and good things will happen,” Noskowiak said.