The decision to attend Lehman College after a stellar basketball career at nearby Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy was not a hard one for Will Feldman.
He likes to keep things familiar, so joining a Lightning program that was going through a major roster overhaul seemed like the perfect collegiate match.
“I was just comfortable being in the area, that and the fact that I had a chance to play right away is why I came to Lehman,” said Feldman, a freshman point guard. “And I think that decision has paid off.”
It’s still early in the season, with Lehman off to a 2-1 start in the City University of New York Athletic Conference, but Feldman already is making his presence known on a team that has 10 new faces on the roster. The 6-foot-1 guard is leading the team in minutes played (30.9), is tops on the team in free throw percentage (85.7 percent) and is averaging 9.1 points a game.
He also was handed the keys to run the program by head coach Steve Schulman, a rare show of faith in a freshman.
But the toughest part of college for Feldman has not been getting acclimated with his new teammates, but actually just getting to school from his Riverdale home.
“That (Bx)10 bus,” Feldman said, laughing. “You know how that is. It can take me 35 minutes to get to school with the 10 bus.”
Feldman, who also considered attending Lehman rival Hunter College, said it was a bit strange when he showed up for his first Lightning practice and introductions had to be made with so many new faces in the program.
“It was definitely very similar to my first year (at RKA), not knowing the guys and having a whole new team,” Feldman said. “But everyone has kind of bonded really well.”
Nothing was guaranteed to Feldman once he arrived at Lehman. Playing time would have to be earned, and Feldman was more than ready for the challenge. But it wasn’t until just before Lehman’s season-opening game against Mitchell College that Schulman would reveal just how much court time he would see.
“He actually never told me I was going to be a starter,” Feldman said, laughing. “Before our first game, he just drew up on the board that I was starting, and it’s just been like that ever since.”
It’s a pretty heady situation for a freshman to be running his own college program right from the start, but Feldman said he has made the necessary adjustments to succeed.
“It’s much different than high school,” Feldman said. “The constant effort you have to give is extreme. But the biggest adjustment so far has been the overall ability of players on the other team to guard and cover space. And there’s also the effort you have to give on defense on every possession. In high school, you can take some possessions off on defense, but not in college.”
With such a young team — there are six freshmen and five sophomores on the roster — Feldman believes it will take time for the Lightning to become a more cohesive unit. But he sees Lehman being a more formidable team come February than it may be at the present time.
“We have a lot of pieces, actually, but it’s just that we haven’t found that chemistry yet,” Feldman said. “But once we do, we’ll be scary.”
Feldman, who was primarily a scorer during his RKA days, has seen his game branch out more on the collegiate level. In a recent victory over York, he poured in a season-high 14 points. In a win over Medgar Evers, he worked the boards and pulled in eight rebounds. There also have been a pair of games in which he logged six assists.
He’s becoming a far more complete player during his brief college career.
“I think with a college team you have to get guys involved more because all these dudes are really good,” Feldman said. “So as a point guard, I’m just trying to get things rolling and help this team win.”
Now that the new year has started, the Lightning will continue its conference season, and it’s here Feldman believes the best is yet to come.
“I think we’re going to be near the top of the division,” Feldman said. “It’s going to take a little while to get used to playing with each other, but once we do, I think we’ll be one of the most talented CUNY teams.”
It’s early in his career, but Feldman seems to have made the leap from high school to college hoops without much trouble at all. Now if he could only figure out a better way to get to school.
“Easily the 10 bus ride is the worst,” Feldman said, with a laugh. “The dreadful 10.”