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Jon Potvin: Steady at the Point
By Ross Weener
Jon Potvin - click photo to enlarge image
Jon Potvin drives past Hope defenders

Few may know it, but Orlando Magic center Patrick Ewing and Calvin co-captain Jon Potvin have something in common. It is definitely not their size as Ewing towers above most men at 7'0" and weighs 255 pounds while Potvin stands a mere 5'11" and tips the scale at 170. They have never even met before. But if you looked to the floor of the Calvin Fieldhouse this past year, you would have seen Calvin's starting point guard sporting the link between himself and Ewing—a black armband.

While participating in a basketball tournament this season in West Palm Beach, Fla., the Knights were given tickets to an Orlando Magic-Indiana Pacers game by Magic president and Grand Rapids resident Dick DeVos. "We had awesome seats," said Potvin. "We were about 10-15 feet away from the players. After the game we were waiting for some of the players to come out and talk to us and Orlando's trainer was throwing out Gatorade towels, but I wasn't quick enough to get one of the towels. I raised my arms and said, 'throw me something' and he threw out three or four wristbands and I think I caught Patrick Ewing's."

Orlando Magic armband aside, Potvin was the floor general for a young Knight team and also played steady defense—a staple for this year's version of the maroon and gold. "On the court there was more communication that I needed to get across to the younger players. Obviously I knew the system better than anybody else, because I had been here the longest. My job was to be a coach on the floor. Off the court I had more communication with coach Vande Streek. As captains of the team, Jeremy [Veenstra] and I had responsibilities off the court dealing with media and other school functions that require our time. It was a lot more responsibility, but I really enjoyed the role I had this year."

To anyone who missed the first Calvin-Hope meeting on January 19, but picked up the box score after the game, it would look like Potvin's 12-point performance was anything but outstanding. Averaging only 3.6 points at that point, Potvin turned in a performance that was anything but bland, nailing the eventual game winning three-pointer with 16 seconds left in the game to propel the Knights to a 70-68 win over the Flying Dutchmen at the Holland Civic Center. "The Hope games will always stand out in my mind. Every game has been really close since I have been here. It always comes down to the last one or two minutes of the game."

So what brought this youngster from Gladstone, Mich., down to play basketball at Calvin? Word of mouth, actually. "I knew about Calvin from a few guys in my area that had played in the conference (Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association) for other schools. They told me that Calvin was one of the best places to play in the MIAA, so when I was in the area on a recruiting visit to Grand Valley, I stopped by Calvin and talked with coach Vande Streek. I guess that got the ball rolling and the rest is history."

As for that sweet finger roll and smooth-looking running jumper that have graced Calvin's campus for four years, Potvin attributes them to his childhood in the Upper Peninsula. "I learned them from our high school's leading scorer, who was a guard about my height and was my role model growing up. He ran a basketball camp in the summertime and he basically taught it to me. He told me that if I was going to be under six foot and play college basketball, I needed to find some way to get my shot off in the lane."

Not only a master of the finger roll but also a diligent student in the classroom, Potvin will graduate in the spring with a degree in business. He has accepted a full-time position at Cornerstone Home Loan, and will begin work immediately after graduation. Just as Potvin keys the Knight offense now, he would one day like to start his own business. "I would like to stay in Grand Rapids for a few years, but if that opportunity leads me to open up my own office someplace else, I would like to do that. I would like to eventually go into business for myself, and be my own boss."

While Potvin will not be back in a Calvin uniform next year, he will not stay away from basketball for long. "I haven't ruled out coaching in the future. I know basketball is going to be a big part of my life forever and I know I could take a few years off right away, but I don't think that I could stay away from the game for very long."

Men's Basketball

"The Game"
Calvin vs. Hope, 1/19/02 - photos from satellite viewing sites around the country

Calvin basketball—a family tradition
Kevin Broene is a third-generation Knight

Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association
MIAA Basketball


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