By Craig Beilfuss
MUSKEGON—On Thursday afternoon, Western Michigan Christian’s Owen Varnado made it official as he signed his national letter of intent to continue his basketball career at Calvin University in Grand Rapids.
As a senior, Varnado led the Warriors with 24.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.6 blocked shots per game.
“Having the opportunity to coach Owen these last 4 years has been incredible,” former Warrior coach Kurt Gruppen said. “Owen is a coach’s dream. Watching Owen grow from his freshmen year to his senior years has been gratifying as a coach.”
His effort, leadership and desire to improve was a definite asset to the WMC program.
“Owen is a top notch student and makes his academics a priority,” Gruppen said. “Owen leaves WMC as a 1,000-point scorer for his career. More importantly, he has left a legacy of what it means to be a Warrior basketball player and student-athlete at WMC.”
“I know that Owen will be a great asset to Calvin University, to the basketball program and the campus,” Gruppen said. “Owen is a great representation of Western Michigan Christian High School and I couldn’t be more proud of what he has been able to accomplish at WMC.”
Varnado dealt with a preseason injury that cost him the first five games of his senior season. The shortened season due to covid also cut into Varnado’s prep career.
“Owen was determined to not allow these setbacks to negatively affect his career at WMC,” Gruppen said. “Owen has worked hard on his basketball game over the past 4 years and the work he has put in really showed during his senior year.”
Part of that workout regimen included time spent working out with his cousin, Jaylen Brown, a shooting guard for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association.
“Feel very grateful to have Owen Varnado in our 2022 recruiting class,” said Calvin College head basketball coach Bill Sall on Wednesday afternoon.
“Owen is a tremendous 3-tiered scorer and incredible athlete. I think what separates Owen from a number of high school players is his feel for the game. Making the right play and the correct pass, seeing the floor, being able to direct traffic are just some of the amazing things I have witnessed over the last couple of years,” said Sall.
“Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have the ability to go dunk over 3 people in the lane! Anyone who has watched Owen play basketball immediately can see his love for the game, his servant leadership, and his passion for winning,” said the veteran coach.
“Although he is already a very good player, I think Owen has just touched the potential of what he could become at the collegiate level. I’m looking forward to seeing that continued development over the next four years at Calvin University.”
The Knights, a Division III university, finished last season with a 22-9 record and a 11-3 record in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). Calvin finished 18th in the final Division III poll.