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Olympian to reunite with old teammates

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Connor Umphress spent part of his summer fixing, cleaning and organizing the trophies in Columbus East’s trophy cases for his senior project.

This winter, Umphress hopes to add a couple more trophies to those cases. He’ll try to lead the Olympian basketball team to Hoosier Hills Conference and sectional titles and possibly more.

“I’m hoping to throw another state championship trophy in that case,” Umphress said.

Umphress recently cleared up his college future, deciding on Saint Francis University. He’ll be reunited with recent East graduate Bryce Lienhoop and recent North graduate Evan Henry, who leave for their freshman years at the Fort Wayne school on Wednesday.

“I really felt comfortable with the coaches, and I felt comfortable with the school,” Umphress said. “I liked everything about the basketball program and the business program, and I wanted to continue to play with Bryce and play with Evan Henry again.”

“They weren’t persuading me, but they wanted to know the scoop every time I went up there,” he said. “They were pretty happy that I was going.”

Lienhoop and Umphress have played together at East the past three years, helping the Olympians to a 45-21 record during that span.

“He’s been a great leader for me, taught me a lot about the game and has been a great leader by example,” Umphress said. “He’s been a great friend to me.”

Henry played with Umphress at Rock Creek Elementary.

“Ever since elementary school, we hung out all the time,” Umphress said. “He’s my best friend. We didn’t hang out a lot during basketball season, but whenever we were in the offseason, we hung out a lot more.”

The 6-foot-5 Umphress verbally committed in early April to Division II Maryville University in St. Louis. St. Francis is an NAIA school.

“After visiting St. Francis, it was a better fit for him academically and athletically,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “Maryville completely understood, and they hated losing him. It’s going to be a great opportunity for him.”

Umphress plans to major in business administration at St. Francis. His visit to the school helped him figure out what classes he needed to take as a senior at East.

“I’m taking four AP classes this year, plus four dual-credits and got my senior project out of the way,” Umphress said. “I’m focusing on school right now and basketball.”

Last winter, Umphress led the Olympians with 18.6 points a game. The 6-foot-5 forward added 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists, while shooting 45 percent from 3-point range.

“He works really hard,” Chitty said. “He’s a pure shooter. He can shoot it, and he’s a smart basketball player and he had a great work ethic.”

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