Steel Valley’s Camden Polak likes making noise in the library

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020 | 10:05 PM


Many high school students go to the library to check out a book for their next homework assignment, but Steel Valley senior Camden Polak goes there for a different reason.

Every morning, from the start of the school year until the beginning of the Ironmen basketball season, Polak woke up at 4 a.m. and headed to the Carnegie Library, which has a full gym on the second floor, to work out and get in some early shots on the basketball court for an hour before heading off to school.

“You got to get more time in than everybody else and that was one way to do it,” he said.

Polak also does plenty of studying and reading books. He carries a 3.0 GPA, but the education he’s getting on that second floor gymnasium at the Carnegie Library has helped him become one of the most prolific scorers in the entire WPIAL.

Polak, who has scored at least 30 points in each of his last nine games, scored 39 in Wednesday’s 77-61 nonsection victory at Clairton. He has scored 40 or more three times.

Polak had a 43-point performance in an 81-62 win over Burrell on Friday. He dropped 42 points in a loss to South Allegheny on Dec. 20 and scored 40 in a 60-47 win over Jeannette on Dec. 16.

The Ironmen are 7-4 overall and 4-2 in Section 3-3A play.

“Cam is a gym rat,” Steel Valley coach Dale Chapman said. “He’s put a lot of time to basketball, and he also put a lot of time in in the weight room. We knew as a staff coming into the year that he was going to have to log a lot of minutes. He’s got to shoot the ball in order for us to win and so far, so good.”

Chapman said the Carnegie Library is a popular spot for kids in the Steel Valley School District to work out and play hoops and that he even played basketball there as a kid, but Polak has taken his work to another level.

Polak built on the momentum of a good second half of last season and a strong summer playing AAU basketball and kept it going by sticking to his daily regimen.

“I’ve had him for four years and I’ve watched him grow from a 5-7, 130-pound freshman to what he is now,” Chapman said. “He’s become tougher mentally and his jump shot has college range. I think that’s a big asset with his height. He’s 6-2 now, and in the college game, the deeper you can shoot it at that height, the better off you are.”

Some interest has been brewing for Polak from Division I schools like Binghamton, Bryant, Hartford, Sacred Heart and Youngstown State and he’s still sifting through what his future will be.

“It’s a tough decision,” Polak said. “It’s something that you’re going to do for the next four years of your life, and it’s hard to figure out where the right fit is.”

The focus for Polak in the present is helping the Ironmen reach the postseason.

“I think we can make a playoff run and hopefully make it to the WPIAL championship,” Polak said.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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