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Off-season work pays dividends for Saluki guard Sean Lloyd

  • Southern Illinois junior guard Sean Lloyd has taken his game to a new level this season.

    Southern Illinois junior guard Sean Lloyd has taken his game to a new level this season.
    Courtesy of Tom Weber/Saluki Media Service

Submitted by Tony McDaniel, Saluki Media Service
updated: 12/22/2017 4:35 PM

Southern Illinois junior guard Sean Lloyd has taken his game to a new level this season.

The Philadelphia native is shooting 44 percent from three-point range, 42 percent from the field, and averages 11.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. If the season ended today, all of those stats would be career highs. He also has 18 assists, more than half as many as he had in all of the 2016-17 campaign.

Part of the reason for Lloyd's success this year has been a bump in playing time. As a freshman two years ago, he played only 38 minutes, waiting patiently behind veterans like Anthony Beane, Mike Rodriguez and Leo Vincent. Last year, his playing time jumped to 26.7 minutes per game. A bigger reason for his success, however, is a work-ethic spurred on by a love for basketball.

"It was hard not playing in previous seasons," Lloyd said. "Every day I just worked to get better and help the team get better. If I couldn't play, I wanted to push guys like Anthony, Mike and Sean O'Brien to do their best."

Lloyd has put in the time to improve in the offseason the last two years and the fruits of his efforts are starting to show. He credits much of his growth to former teammates and the Saluki coaching staff. Rodriguez and Lloyd worked out in the gym together two summers ago. Beane helped Lloyd grow on the defensive end, and he called Beane one of the best offensive players he's ever guarded. Lloyd also credits assistant coach Brad Autry. He called Autry one of the most energetic people he's ever met and said that he makes people want to get better through his enthusiasm.

This summer, Lloyd and many of his Saluki teammates put in hours in the gym to work on shooting. The extra reps helped not only Lloyd, but freshman Aaron Cook, juniors Armon Fletcher and Rudy Stradnieks, and senior Jonathan Wiley. All have improved their field goal percentage from last season.

On the court, Lloyd has grown into one of the team's best players, but according to Lloyd he is the best at another form of basketball.

"I'm the best NBA 2K18 player on the team. That's a matter of fact," he smiled. "My teammates have no choice to admit that I'm the best. We had a 2K tournament in the summer and I won."

Lloyd and many of the Salukis play video games as a way to unwind while still keeping the competitive spirit flowing. NBA 2K tournaments like the one the team organized this past summer are good team-building activities.

Lloyd still has another season and a half of playing time left at SIU, but he doesn't plan on that being the end of his basketball career. He can see himself as a coach at the collegiate or high school level. Lloyd, who majors in recreation, also hopes to open his own facility in his hometown of Philadelphia to help kids learn and practice the game of basketball.

He sees both avenues -- coaching and owning a sports complex -- as a way to give back to his community.

"When I was younger, that's how I started playing," Lloyd said. "Owning a sports complex and coaching would be a great way to give back."