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Sandburg native Juliana Paddock comes back stronger

This might be a little ironic Juliana Paddock He wears number 13 at Sandburg.

After not one but two ACL tears in his high school career and a stress fracture that cost him a month of his senior season, you’d think the 6-foot-10 forward would want to turn the numbers around.

But Paddock continues on, proving that he can overcome any bad luck that comes his way; This is a trait that should be a key feature for the Eagles in the playoffs.

“It’s been a wild ride for him,” Sandburg coach said Nick Fotopoulos aforementioned.

No doubt. And the drive to the Paddock continued on an upward note with a 60-46 non-conference victory over host Oak Lawn on Saturday.

Paddock had six points and five rebounds for Sandburg (17-12) but was also responsible for three blocked shots that disrupted the Spartans’ offense.

He is also an effective passer, which Fotopoulos appreciates.

“Every time we can get the ball down to him the defense collapses,” he said. “Once we manage to get the ball in and three defenders are down, we are open to our shooters.”

This was Paddock’s first quarter on Saturday. One example of this was when he caught the ball in the lane and multiple players went down on defense for Oak Lawn (15-13).

No problem. Paddock threw the ball to the sophomore Olivia TrunkHe quickly hit the 3-pointer that got the Eagles going and they never looked back.

After the game, Paddock reminisced about a pretty interesting high school career, particularly his two ACL tears.

Homewood-Flossmoor’s Caris Pryor (25) and Sandburg’s Juliana Paddock (13) fight for a loose ball during the SouthWest Suburban Blue game on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, in Orland Park. (Steve Johnston/Daily Southtown)

“The first time I was a freshman and it was in the preseason, I think I dribbled the ball too far,” he said of his left knee injury. “It was COVID season, so I didn’t miss too much.

“My freshman year I was trying to save the ball and there wasn’t even time left in the game. “It was an accidental thing.”

The second took place in January 2023. He was not allowed to play until October, which gave him time to think and essentially become another assistant coach to Fotopoulos.

If that means he wants to coach one day, you’re right.

“I definitely think I will,” he said. “Especially after last year, I think it further reinforced that I love basketball, whether by watching or playing, so I think I would definitely want to coach in the future.”

Another strength he has going for him, according to his brother teammates, is being a strong leader for the Eagles. Annie Driscolla senior guard and a sophomore guard Ellie Driscoll.

“She has the most college experience on our team, so she helps a lot with that,” Annie Driscoll said. “So him coming back and being on the bench was really helpful.”

Sandburg's Juliana Paddock (13) shoots against Homewood-Flossmoor's Ihuoma Ozoh (5) during a Southwest Suburban Conference game on Tuesday, January 30, 2024 in Orland Park, IL.  (Steve Johnston/Daily Southtown)
Sandburg’s Juliana Paddock (13) shoots against Homewood-Flossmoor’s Ihuoma Ozoh (5) during the SouthWest Suburban Blue game on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, in Orland Park. (Steve Johnston/Daily Southtown)

Driscoll’s sister said you can tell the difference with Paddock on the field this season compared to last winter.

“He brings a lot of energy to the team,” Ellie Driscoll said.

Paddock’s philosophy is to lead by example. Of course, he needed to be more vocal as he sat through his second ACL tear, but it’s always better to set an example of a strong work ethic.

“I never want to ask someone else to do something I haven’t done myself,” he said. “I think it’s easier to communicate now that I’m on the field.”

As he’s a senior and a wild high school career is coming to an end, Paddock is thinking about college. Of course he wants to play basketball, but he hasn’t made a decision yet.

One thing he realized was that he wanted to study business analytics.

“I don’t want to sacrifice any academics,” he said. “So if an opportunity comes along that offers both, I would be really happy.”

Gregg Voss is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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