The first time Steve Stravinski appeared in a Wilkes University uniform was Jan. 12, 2013. In a game against Manhattanville College, Stravinski made his collegiate basketball debut with five points in 28 minutes.
Up until that time, he didn’t get a second of playing time. Since then, Stravinski has molded himself into one of the best players in Colonel history.
The 2012 Pittston Area graduate became the 31st player in the history of the Wilkes University men’s basketball to score 1,000 career points. Stravinski did it with a 18-point performance on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at FDU-Florham. With 16:21 to play in the first half, Stravinsky hit a free throw to reach the milestone.
Heading into the game, Stravinski needed just four points. Stravinski’s teammate, Alex Wizar, hit the mark at the beginning of the month.
“It was an awesome feeling,” Stravinski said of his accomplishment. “It was kind of relieving and you can just play basketball now. It’s an incredible feeling.”
Stravinski has commuted to Wilkes for his entire career. And while he doesn’t live on campus, he’s developed a relationship with his teammates, especially Wizar. But going to school and playing just several miles from home, Stravinski gets to share his accomplishments with family and friends.
Stravinski is the son of Carl and Maria Stravinski of Pittston Township. The senior guard said his parents have made almost every game in his career, including the games with four-hour road trips.
“That’s the best part,” he said. “We could be four hours away and they would be there — nearly every game, even when I wasn’t playing. They’ve always been there for me.”
The senior guard said it was a long Tuesday night because of the amount of texts and friends reaching out on Twitter.
“The amount of people that reached out from (Tuesday) was incredible,” he said. “Being a local kid is a great feeling. I was able to talk to my old coaches and everyone that helped was just great.”
Several years ago, many people around the Wilkes program weren’t thinking about Stravinski hitting the 1,000-point mark. Coming out of Pittston Area, Stravinski was a shooter. Over time, Wilkes coach Izzi Metz said, Stravinski turned into an all-around player.
In 24 games this season heading into a showdown with King’s College on Saturday, Feb. 20, Stravinski is averaging 13.9 points per game. He also contributes 8.3 rebounds. The senior has stamped his name in the all-time ranks at Wilkes University.
As a junior, Stravinski and Wizar each made 72 threes, which was good for ninth on the Wilkes all-time list. This season, Stravinski’s 91 percent from the free throw line would rank him in the top-3 in Wilkes history. He’s 55 for 60 this season. Metz said Stravinski’s post game has especially improved.
“When I took the job I saw a guy that could shoot the three,” Metz said. “That was his reputation. As he has got older we needed him to do more and now he’s become a really good player.”
Following that first game of Stravinski’s freshman season, then-coach Jerry Rickrode pulled Stravinski aside to tell him he would be starting the next game. Of course, the rest is history. But for Stravinski, that was the start of a solid career and he owes a lot to the former coach.
During that first year, Wilkes struggle to get its feet under them. Stravinski said his hard work and practice and dedication to getting a lot of shots off during those sessions helped him get to the starting lineup.
“That whole year we weren’t playing great,” he said. “I would just be practicing and making shots. (Rickrode) saw it at the time. Things went the right way even though I didn’t play a second before that.”
In Stravinski’s freshman year he scored 64 points. He had 268 and 349 points, respectively, in his sophomore and junior years. So far this season, he has scored 333 points.
In Stravinski’s senior year at Pittston Area, he led the Wyoming Valley Conference in scoring with 22 points per game. He was tied for the league lead with 34 threes and scored in double figures in all 13 league games.
Stravinski will finish his education with a degree in psychology and hopes to return to school for his master’s degree. In the future, he hopes to coach basketball.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick