BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTO BY STEVE WHEELER
Basketball isn’t the only place Nate Bloedorn shines.
The senior small forward is Nolensville’s first 1,000-point scorer and a National Merit student.
“He’s got a perfect (grade point average), a 33 super score on his ACT,” Knights coach Wes Lambert said. “He takes every (advance placement) course that’s offered. He’s just a different kind of kid.”
Bloedorn ranks No. 1 academically in Nolensville’s first-ever senior class. He has a 4.7 GPA on a weighted scale with all his AP classes.
“I’ve always wanted to get good grades and challenge myself in school,” Bloedorn said.
His work ethic in the classroom is the same as the basketball court. He’s got a standard and does whatever it takes to achieve it.
The 6-foot-7 center averages 20.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and three blocks for Nolensville (4-1), which won its first four games before suffering a 44-43 overtime loss at Brentwood on Tuesday night.
“He probably has some of the best footwork and hands that I’ve seen from a big kid,” Lambert said. “When you’re basically the biggest kid on the court every time, you play you’re going to get doubled or triple-teamed, and he’s able to find the open man every single time.”
Nolensville, a third-year program, made it all the way to the Class AA sectional last season, falling to Whites Creek 51-47 to finish one win short of the state tournament.
“We’re not happy with that loss to Whites Creek,” Bloedorn said. “We felt like we were a better team. And this year we all want to go to the state tournament.”
Bloedorn said the Knights don’t feel like a new program anymore.
“At this point, it doesn’t feel like a third-year program to us now because we’ve been doing this so long,” Bloedorn said. “We’re a new program, but it feels like this is where we’re supposed to be.”
One of his best games was an 18-point, 20-rebound effort against Franklin last year. His career highs are 29 points and 22 rebounds.
Bloedorn was on the verge of breaking his career high when he scored 25 points in the first three quarters at Summit, but Lambert took him out as the Knights rolled to a 77-48 win last week.
“He’s capable of catching the ball from 15 feet out and facing up, and making some plays off the dribble,” Summit coach Josh Goodwin said. “For us, you’ve got to decide if you want to play in front of him or behind him and that just creates so many other opportunities for his teammates. Him not being a selfish kid, he can kind of pick you apart.”
Goodwin said Bloedorn is one of the best inside players he’s seen in the Williamson County area recently.
“It’s one thing being tall, but then when you actually have some good, solid strength behind it, he’s very hard to move around,” Goodwin said. “He can kind of get where he wants to go when he wants to go there and when he’s locked in and engaged, he’s as good of a solid, straight-up big man as there’s been in the area in the last two years, for sure.”
He reached the 1,000-point milestone in Saturday’s 89-56 win at East Hickman. The school is set to honor this achievement Friday with a presentation.
Bloedorn recorded 21 double-doubles last season.
His prowess on the boards is contagious to teammates with three guards averaging at least five rebounds per game: Nathan Foutch (15.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 5 apg), Reese Gilbert (10 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Zach Campbell (15 ppg, 4.9 rpg).
His rebounding numbers have declined slightly this season because the Knights have played several teams that shoot a lot of 3-pointers, which leave long rebounds away from the basket where Bloedorn stations himself.
Bloedorn is trying to improve his outside shot in the hopes of earning a college scholarship as a power forward.
“I think Nate is the epitome of a guy who kind of goes under the radar,” Lambert said. “Honestly, I think a low mid-major DI school could take a chance on him, and they’d be blown away. His work ethic is just unbelievable. You want him in your program.”
The senior has an offer from Missouri Western, the school Franklin sharpshooter Reese Glover committed to in mid-September.
“I’d like to play basketball, but I’m also looking at studying engineering so I have to find a school that fits both of those,” Bloedorn said.
Bloedorn almost averaged a triple-double with points, rebounds and blocks at the mid-point last season.
In mid-December of his junior year, Bloedorn was averaging nearly 10 blocks per game, but once opponents became more familiar with him they stopped taking it inside on him.
Bloedorn’s older brother, Brad, played for Ravenwood, but Nate was zoned for Nolensville when it opened in 2016.
Knee injuries have knocked two Knights out of the lineup. Brandon Wharton hurt his during football season as a quarterback and had surgery recently. Lambert hopes he’ll be back by the postseason.
The 6-5 senior’s dad, Brandon, played for Tennessee and Overton.
Shooting guard Hudson Stromen tore his ACL and could be back by February.
Lambert knows all about knee injuries after undergoing five surgeries as a player at Maryville High School and Maryville University.
Nolensville could make another deep run if Wharton and Stromen return.
“We expect to go to state,” Bloedorn said. “We don’t feel that there’s any team that can really stop us when we’re playing our best.”
Photo from 2017 season