A week after his final college basketball game, Sam Leclerc was back in the gym working on his game. It’s a routine he began early in his high school career at Winthrop and old habits die hard.

“I’m going to work out and keep playing,” he said. “I want to keep my options open.”

Leclerc’s second and final season at Division II Bentley University ended with a 78-65 loss to Assumption in the opening round of the Northeast-10 Conference tournament. He’s still processing that result and his basketball career.

“It’s a much different feeling than I had anticipated,” he said. “I don’t think it’s set in still.”

Leclerc was the only returning starter from a team that reached the Division II Sweet Sixteen last season. The Falcons struggled some this season, finishing at 15-11, but it wasn’t because of Leclerc, who was named first team All NE-10.

“He was by far our best all-around player and arguably the conference’s most improved as he put up exceptional offensive numbers in a very efficient fashion,” Bentley coach Jay Lawson said.

Leclerc averaged 15.5 points a game while shooting 44 percent from the field and behind the 3-point arc and 83.5 percent from the foul line. His impact on defense was just as important. At 6-foot-1, he averaged 6.1 rebounds a game and finished third in the conference off the defensive glass.

“No guards ever do that,” Lawson said.

Leclerc sets high standards for himself and works hard to maintain them, especially during the offseason when he spends hours in the gym and the weight room. That dedication also extends to the season and beyond practice.

“I’m pleasantly concerned,” Lawson said early in the season.

Leclerc admits he took on a bigger role this season than he anticipated but is happy with the way he played. He transferred to Bentley from Division I Bryant University where a summer injury slowed his progress his sophomore year.

“I’m not sure I would do it any differently if I could,” Leclerc said. “I learned a lot of things at Bryant. I still got to play against the top competition in America. Playing in front of 18,000 people at Indiana, Maryland and UConn, those are things I’ll remember in my career forever.”

While many of his senior classmates are on cruise control this time of year, Leclerc is hitting the books hard. Because all his courses didn’t transfer from Bryant he basically had to make up a whole semester last summer and took an extra night class in the fall. A management major with a minor in sociology, he has three classes to complete before graduating in May.

“As far as basketball goes, it’s going to come down to seeing if I’m going to keep playing,” Leclerc said. “I’d still like to coach if I could. I’ve made a lot of contacts throughout my four years.”

Although he doesn’t regret attending Bryant, Leclerc is happy he came to Bentley.

“I couldn’t have walked into a better program,” he said. “I got way more out of this experience than I expected..

“The impact Coach Lawson has on every single guy on the team, it’s really inspiring as a player. He sets the ultimate example for all the guys on the team. That’s aside from his basketball brilliance.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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