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IUP BASKETBALL: Coach's son signs letter to playfor Hawks

by on December 02, 2014 10:34 AM

The IUP basketball program has added a new member to the fold, but really, he was already a member of the family.

Dante Lombardi, the son of coach Joe Lombardi, recently signed his national letter of intent during the fall signing period to attend IUP. He is a 5-foot-11 senior point guard at The Kiski School in Saltsburg.

He follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Dom, who played four years at IUP from 2009-12 and spent one season as a student coach. He is now an assistant coach under Orlando Antigua at South Florida.

“I feel fortunate to have had Dom play in the program and the contributions he made as a player and later as a coach, and I realize how blessed I was to share in those years together on a day-to-day basis,” Joe Lombardi said. “I’m happy Dante chose to join our program and has really developed into a good player. He decided in the fall he wanted to come here because he has a great appreciation and a lot of respect for the guys in the program now and the guys that have come through the program, and he has a lot of respect for the success the program has and what IUP has to offer as an institution. It’s neat to see that he wants to become a part of what we call ‘Hawk Family.’”

Dante Lombardi attracted recruiting attention that included some Division I mid-major programs.

“I would have recruited him if he was his son or wasn’t his son,” IUP assistant coach Matt Hahn said. “I probably would have recruited him at Vermont when I was an assistant coach there. He’s one of those smaller, tougher guards that get overlooked, the kind that’s undersized and people sleep on when he’s a really good athlete and works his tail off.”

Lombardi is averaging about 13 points per game at Kiski, according to his coach, Steve Scorpion. IUP’s point guard, Devante Chance, is a senior. Brandon Norfleet, a junior, also can play point guard.

“First, he’s a very dedicated player,” Hahn said. “He works on his game around the clock, the prototypical gym rat. He’s always working on his game. I think the best part of his game is that he gets by people. He’s fast with the ball and can make plays for others because he does an excellent job using angles and the dribble to create penetration for himself. He’s a much-improved 3-point shooter, and as he continues to shoot the ball with more accuracy, that’s going to make other parts of his game a lot better. He’s a smart player, he understands the game, he makes winning plays, he plays hard all the time, and he blows up the floor in transition. He has the potential to be a very good point guard for us.”

Dante Lombardi could have waited until the spring signing period to make his decision, but he gave IUP a verbal commitment several weeks ago.

“I would have been comfortable if he waited until the springtime or wanted to go elsewhere,” his father said, “but it’s nice to know this is where he wanted to be without twisting his arm at all. Coaching your son brings on a different set of challenges, but his being tough-minded, he’ll have enough to deal with those different challenges that come with that.”

Dante Lombardi attended grade school and junior high school in Indiana.

“Kiski has been a wonderful experience for him,” his father said, “and it has helped him develop as a student and a player because of the academic opportunities it provides, and he’s played against hundreds of Division I players throughout the years with the regional type of schedule they play with tournaments in Virginia and New England.”

Tony Coccagna is a sports writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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