Belding’s Justin McMaster to play basketball at Concordia

By Chip Burch • Last Updated 9:42 pm on Friday, May 19, 2017

Belding’s Justin McMaster, right, is congratulated by Belding boys basketball coach Steve Saboo for signing a letter of intent to play for Concordia University. (Daily News | Chip Burch)


BELDING — Justin McMaster suffered a pretty bad injury to his knee when he was a junior last year.

The Belding senior not only recovered from that injury, but he also caught the eye of some college basketball coaches who wanted him to play for them.

On Tuesday, McMaster signed a letter of intent to play for Concordia University in Ann Arbor.

“I love the atmosphere there and they really accepted me when I came on campus for the first time,” McMaster said.

McMaster had to decide between a couple of colleges.

“I was looking at Cornerstone (University) and Alma College also,” he said.

Belding senior Justin McMaster, right, recovered from a knee injury during his junior year and played the entire year his senior year under first-year coach Steve Saboo, who praised McMaster’s characteristics on the court. ““Just an intense competitive spirit and he listens,” Saboo said of McMaster. Anything that a coach tells him he goes 100 percent effort, a great attitude.” (File photo)

The thing that tipped McMaster to Concordia was coach Ricky Yahn.

“The coach really welcomed me when I first met him and he really appreciated my game,” he said.

McMaster hopes to be a part of the Cardinals team right away.

“My first-year goal is to contribute to the team as greatly as I can,” he said. “Either be a bench player or a role player, either way is fine as long as I am contributing.”

His overall goal with Concordia, though, is to be a starter “and work my way up the ranks,” he said.

McMaster said he hasn’t decided on a major yet but is leaning towards criminal justice.

His high school basketball coach in his senior year, Steve Saboo, said McMaster will excel at Concordia.

“I think Justin has proved there isn’t an obstacle that will stand in his way and I think his adult life is going to be a result of his hard work and dedication,” Saboo said. “He’s a great student, he’s a nicer person and his basketball is jumping right back into being an elite player with dealing with a major knee injury like that and coming back to it and getting a scholarship offer after the coaches met you and saw you play a little bit.”

McMaster will bring a competitive attitude to the Cardinals, according to Saboo.

“Just an intense competitive spirit and he listens,” Saboo said of McMaster. “Anything that a coach tells him he goes 100 percent effort, a great attitude. Every coach needs that. I think when he met the coaches at Concordia, they saw a kid that will go above and beyond their expectations and needs for him and that’s what every coach wants. Wherever he goes he’s going to benefit that group.”

Concordia was 9-21 overall and 5-17 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference in the 2016-17 season. The Cardinals lost eight of their last nine games and 12 of their last 14.

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