by Tim Miller
There are nearly eight million athletes competing in high school sports in the United States. Of that number, fewer than one percent get the opportunity to compete at the next level in the NCAA.
The odds are slight that a devoted teen gets the chance to play in the NCAA, but Conner TenHove cares not about these numbers.
TenHove, a 6-foot-7 freshman from Valparaiso, Indiana, is enjoying a productive season with the Cedarville University men’s basketball team. The forward averaged 10.6 points per game and started 12 games through the Yellow Jackets’ first 14 and dropped a cool 30 points against Malone on Jan. 2.What’s more, when TenHove’s freshman campaign with the basketball team concludes, he’ll lace up his cleats to pitch for the Cedarville baseball squad. TenHove earned a varsity spot with the Yellow Jacket baseball team after playing just three years in high school.
“I started with basketball,” TenHove said. “But baseball was always a close second. Most of my sports memories are with basketball because I spent more time with that and I didn’t get serious with baseball until later on.”
TenHove grew up as a budding basketball player in a state that has a strong basketball pedigree. He said he’d always taken basketball more seriously and that it was his strongest sport. His ability on the hardwood prompted two Division I schools to offer TenHove a scholarship.
“I didn’t want to pick Division I just because it was Division I,” TenHove said. “I wanted to make the right choice for me.”
As his recruitment progressed, TenHove and his parents understood that although he had potential to become a solid collegiate pitcher, the chances of playing in the NCAA had dwindled.
“A lot of schools knew I had the potential to play baseball but offered a walk-on to see how I’d progress,” TenHove said.
That was until TenHove’s father contacted Cedarville’s head basketball coach, Patrick Estepp.
“Honestly, we learned about Conner late through his dad emailing us,” Estepp said. “He had two Division I scholarship offers but wanted a Christian school and wanted a chance to play both baseball and basketball.”
Once TenHove mentioned to Estepp that he had interest in playing both basketball and baseball, Estepp gave TenHove direction on how to make it happen at Cedarville, and TenHove chose Cedarville as his home to be a two-sport collegiate athlete.
“I liked that Cedarville was close enough to home, and it just worked out where I could impact the program and play a lot from the beginning,” TenHove said. “I love the coaches, and it’s a Christian school, and a good academic school.”
The grind of competing in one sport on the college level can be grueling enough, but with TenHove playing a second, he knows there’s a heightened risk of injury. However, Estepp said he sees benefits to TenHove putting in work with baseball workouts.
“There’s always an increased risk because I’m playing multiple sports,” TenHove said. “Both coaches have been really understanding because I need a little more rest with playing two sports.”
Juggling the time commitments of school and sports hasn’t been too much of a struggle according to TenHove. He said the hardest part of the year is the fall. During that period, TenHove gets prepped for the basketball season while working with the baseball team for fall league.
Even though he claims he’s better at basketball and has enjoyed it more than baseball throughout his childhood, TenHove said he can’t choose which is his favorite.
“I think I’m still better at basketball, but I think I have a higher ceiling with baseball,” TenHove said. “It depends on the season. When I’m on the court and enjoying basketball, I think it’s my favorite. But when I’m out on the field and it’s a beautiful day, I think baseball is my favorite.”
TenHove is on track to be a staple for Cedarville’s basketball team over the next four years, as he’s already provided an offensive presence for the Yellow Jackets in the low post, a place where Cedarville has been thirsting for production. TenHove continues to show promise from the mid-range and was a season-best 2-for-4 from behind the three-point arc in his career game against Malone.
On the diamond, TenHove hasn’t had a chance to see action, but hurled a one-hitter against a back-to-back state champion in high school.
Although he’s early on his journey, TenHove said he’s happy at Cedarville.
“I’m really glad I picked Cedarville and I’ve really enjoyed it here,” TenHove said. “I’m excited to see where it takes me from here.”
Tim Miller is a sophomore marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, sipping Dunkin Donuts coffee and striving to be the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.