SOUTH WAYNE — Every parent’s dream is to help their child grow and be the best that they can be. When the child follows in their parent’s footsteps in sports, records and boundaries sometimes get pushed aside.
Ken Griffey Jr. didn’t take long to blaze past his father in baseball, while Prince Fielder ended up with exactly the same amount of home runs as his father Cecil. In basketball, Michael Jordan is widely considered the best player of all time, but his sons Jeffrey and Marcus? Not quite.
At Black Hawk High School, one such father-son rivalry is taking shape, as senior Conner Meyer entered the Christmas weekend just 60 points shy of his father’s career record of 1,413, and 14 behind Heath Butler for second place.
“He said he might break my leg the day before I break it, so I have to be careful,” Conner joked about his father, Craig. “It’s going to mean a lot to keep it in the family and stuff. It’s a great accomplishment, and I’ll be happy.”
Conner stands 6-foot-5, but is more than just a big post player. An athletic forward, Meyer is dangerous from beyond the arc and his wingspan can give opposing teams nightmares when playing defense. He’s shooting a blistering 45.5 percent from 3-point land this season and is a career 36 percent shooter from beyond the arc. Meyer is also a career 73.7 percent shooter from the free throw line, and after averaging 20.7 and 18.7 points per game in each of the last two seasons has been named first-team all-conference in the Six Rivers East.
He said he might break my leg the day before I break it, so I have to be careful.Conner Meyer joked about his father
“He’s put a lot of work into it. It isn’t something that has just happened — he’s worked extremely hard,” Craig Meyer said. “He’s not doing it on his own — he’s got a lot of help. The kids on the team here, it’s such a group effort. That’s really good to see, because he wouldn’t score a point without these other kids.”
Craig graduated from Black Hawk in 1990 and went on to play college basketball at Loyola University and UW-Milwaukee. He was the first player in Warriors history to eclipse 1,000 career points.
“As far as talent and all that stuff goes, I’m glad I played when I did, because these kids are way more talented than when we were back in the day,” Craig said.
Conner became the fourth boys player in Black Hawk history to reach the 1,000-point threshold Jan. 13, 2018 in a win over Don Bosco, Iowa. Conner is averaging nearly 18 points per game in his career. He also has a shot at the school record for boys and girls scoring, sitting just 227 behind UW-Green Bay’s Jen Wellnitz, who scored 1,580 points before graduating in 2014. That mark might have to wait until late January or even February, depending on how the season goes.
“To be honest I don’t even think about it,” Conner said of pursuing milestones. “It’s my senior year and I’m just focusing on the team. We can’t be selfish if we want to be winning games, we have to be focused together as a team.”Conner said that he is not planning on playing basketball in college, and will instead focus on his education and eventually hopes to open his own business.
“I love basketball, but I feel that there are other opportunities that I can take advantage of in my off-time in college to help kickstart my future,” said Conner, who is also unsure of which school he’ll be attending next fall. “I’m thinking about going to business/marketing.”
Craig said he never pushed basketball onto his children. But once Conner got a taste of the game, he was hooked.
He’s put a lot of work into it. It isn’t something that has just happened — he’s worked extremely hard.Craig Meyer on his son, Conner
“He was young — very young. But he was competitive at a very early age. It didn’t matter if he was playing chess, or basketball, or anything at that time. We knew he was going to be one of the good ones,” Craig said.
Craig said that he has offered advice to his two sons — Conner and Cade, a Monroe sophomore forward — but that the teenagers sometimes put him on mute.
“How many did they listen to? Both of my sons don’t really take advice from their old man,” Craig said. “They kind of blaze their own trail. The fact that I played basketball growing up, I did not want to push (basketball) on them. I’m blessed that they play, but they’ve blazed their own trail and done this on their own. There was no help from me — it’s on them.”
Blazing their own trail is one thing, but perhaps the biggest steps on the court have come from the backyard against one another, and not from listening to dad or coaches. Craig said his sons’ sibling rivalry in the driveway runs deep.
“A lot of blood loss,” Craig said with a chuckle. “We have a basketball court behind the house and a lot of arguments get started and ended on that court. (Conner’s) got about 25 pounds on Cade, so that helps a lot.”
Black Hawk (3-3) was set to play at a holiday tournament in Platteville Dec. 27 and 28 against Wauzeka-Steuben (6-1) and River Ridge, Illinois. Should Conner not reach the mark by then, the Warriors open 2019 with a home game against Juda (0-10) Jan. 3 before a Jan. 5 road game at Shullsburg (5-2).