Story by Chris Graham
He had just had the best game of his brief college career, but Heiden Ratner wasn’t all that impressed with himself.
“I had open shots, so I took them – and I made them, which was good. But it really doesn’t mean nothing at all – it means nothing at all,” JMU freshman point guard Heiden Ratner told me a couple of weeks ago after the Dukes suffered to now their only loss of the season on the road at VMI in a game that saw the 6-0, 170-pound Las Vegas product score 15 points and dish out seven assists.
Ratner is a difference-maker for James Madison coach Dean Keener, who has been impressed with his protege’s ability to raise his game to the college level as quickly as he has.
“Heiden is a kid that will give you everything he’s got,” Keener told The SportsDominion. “He’s still learning in terms of what to do and where to go – but you don’t ever really question his effort and his desire. You can go to war with guys like that.”
As impressive as his scoring (6.0 points per game) and shooting (53.8 percent from the field, 58.3 percent from three-point range) has been the confidence that Keener has shown Ratner in terms of minutes – Ratner is averaging 24 minutes a game, and he was on the floor for 29 minutes in the VMI loss and 30 minutes in a big road win at Eastern Kentucky.
And the kid is nothing if not humble about where he sees himself fitting in with the talented Dukes squad.
“My role is whatever they need. If they need me to go in and stop a player or pick up full court or whatever it is, or if they need me to come in and get some baskets, that’s what I’ll do,” Ratner said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.