Switzerland County senior Damian Breeck (20) shoots over Madison’s Colin Yancey during a game earlier this season. Breeck averaged nearly 20 ppg this past season and has signed to play at Earlham College in the fall. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Switzerland County senior Damian Breeck (20) shoots over Madison’s Colin Yancey during a game earlier this season. Breeck averaged nearly 20 ppg this past season and has signed to play at Earlham College in the fall. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Damian Breeck had his future all planned out. The Switzerland County High School star was set to graduate in a few weeks and then he was ready to start his career in industrial maintenance, something in which he had been training for years.

But the lure of basketball was still there and eventually, Breeck decided he wasn’t ready to give up the sport he loves.

On Wednesday, Breeck put those future plans on hold and officially committed to playing basketball at Earlham College in Richmond. In this case, the dream beat out reality.

“It was a really tough decision,” Breeck said. “I had been taking classes at Ivy Tech and I was all set to go into that field, knowing that I could get a job across the river at Dow or Nucor. But I wasn’t ready to be done with basketball yet. Me and my grandma had a long talk and decided that in the end, this would be the best thing. It was really a last-second decision”

With the decision to go to college set, it was just a matter of finding a suitable place to play. As it turned out, he had a suitor already knocking on his door.

Earlham College coach Joe Scheuers had been in contact with Breeck all season long and after Breeck took a visit to campus and met with the coach, he was hooked.

“Coach had already seen me play and when I met him he seemed like a really good guy and a great dad,” Breeck said. “I don’t want to say that I fell in love with the place, but when I got there I was just surprised at how beautiful the campus was; it was really old school. I just really liked it.”

It’s easy to see why Earlham would want Breeck. A 6-foot combo guard, Breeck averaged 19.7 points-per-game for the Pacers this past season while grabbing 6.7 rebounds per contest. He led the Ohio River Valley Conference in free-throw percentage (83.3%) while dishing out 64 assists and hitting over 50 3-pointers.

He was a Madison Courier First Team All-Area selection this past season and a three-time all-ORVC selection. He was also named as an IBCA All-State Underclassman Honorable Mention selection.

It was Breeck’s shooting that drew Scheuers’’ eye and where he should make the most impact for the Quakers.

“He really liked my shooting ability. He told me he wants to build a team around shooters and big guys,” Breeck said. “Hopefully, that’s where I fit in.”

Adam Dennis, who coach Breeck for all four years in high school before resigning after the season, said that Breeck’s shooting is what makes him stand out, but that is also said he’s not a one-dimensional player.

“His consistency as a shooter is his biggest strength and I think that’s what sets him apart,” Dennis said. “But he’s also deceptively strong and he can get to the basket when he needs to and he rebounds well. And for his first two years he played point guard for us. Damian is just such a smart basketball player and he can do pretty much anything you need him to do.”

Earlham went 10-15 this past season, its best season in over a decade. The Quakers haven’t made the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference postseason tournament since they joined the league in 2010.

But Breeck is excited for what the future holds and believes that the program is on the rise.

“I talked about that with the coach and I really feel like the players have bought into the program,” Breeck said. “The feeling that I have is that the last two seasons were kind of rebuilding years and now they have the potential to take the next step. Hopefully I can help this team do that.”

Breeck also said that getting a chance to play in a league with stops at nearby schools Hanover, Mount St. Joseph, Franklin and Transylvania was also a draw.

“Honestly, that’s one of the big things that drew me to them,” Breeck said of the HCAC. “To get a chance to play close to home at times was important.”

Remaining connected to home is something that Breeck wanted to maintain. While the Pacers struggled at times through a six-win season, the team remained tight and Breeck values the relationships that were built.

“Those guys are my best friends. I’m going to miss just being out there with them everyday,” Breeck said. “Those guys will be with me forever. They’ll be in my wedding, one of them will be my best man. We’ll spend our lives together. That’s what I’ll remember the most about Switzerland County.”

Dennis, who has been around Breeck since he was a young boy, was thrilled to see his star player not only decide to head off to college, but to pick a school he was familiar with.

“I couldn’t be more excited for him,” Dennis said. “I ran track and cross country at Manchester and I know much of an impact that college made on my life. The friends you make in college and the experiences that you have are the ones that you will have for a lifetime. I’m just excited for him.

“I’m also excited that he will be playing in the HCAC,” Dennis said, then added with a joke. “I’m not coaching anymore so I can follow him all over the place. I’ll be his roadie.”