Trevor Giordano understood his lot in basketball life at an early age.

“I was always the smallest guy on the court, so I knew early on scoring wasn’t gonna be my main thing,” the 5-foot-7 point guard said. “I knew I could make passes and defend, so I took on those roles.”

Steinert High boys’ basketball senior Trevor Giordano has scored 16 points per game in the Spartans’ 4-8 start. He averaged 6.7 points in the first 50 games of his career. (Photo by Rich Fisher.)

Now in his senior year playing for Steinert, a funny thing has happened.

“As I got older, I started scoring more,” Giordano said. “This year it just took off for me.”

Has it ever. Though the Spartans 4-8 start, Giordano led the team in scoring with 16 points per game and in made 3-pointers with 17. In the previous two seasons, after becoming Steinert’s full-time starting point guard, he averaged 6.7 points in 50 games.

“I knew as a senior we were short-handed, lost our 1,000-point scorer,” Giordano said after a win over Hamilton West, nodding across the gym to the graduated Mario Mazur. “I knew me and some of the older guys, Nymere (Whitaker), Manny (Obika) were gonna have to step up in the scoring role.”

Steinert coach Kyle Flanagan feels that Giordano has been outstanding in adapting to his new role. He looks to score, but doesn’t force it, which in turn brings him more opportunities.

‘You just have to do what you can control. Put the ball in the basket, defend, hustle, work hard.’

“Beforehand he was only expecting to handle the ball, but now he takes on the weight of scoring,” Flanagan said. “He’s been getting his shot off quicker. He’s been looking for his teammates and he’s been patient. He hasn’t gotten rattled.

“Part of basketball is maturing and as he’s matured here with us, he’s started to see things a little differently. When guys are starting to rotate to him more, he’ll dish it out and really go ahead and be that floor general. He wants the ball. I tell him you can’t have it every time because we want you to get your looks. But he always demands the ball, he’s ready to step up.”

And while it may sound easy for a kid to adapt a scoring role, it’s not all that simple when a player has spent a lifetime with the mindset of distributing and running the offense.

“I’ve always had the ball in my hands,” Giordano said. “That makes it tough to score.”

He began rec basketball in the Hamilton Little Lads and began playing AAU in fourth grade with the Mid-Jersey Mavericks and moved on to the NJ Swarm. It was with the latter that he honed a skill so necessary to run the point.

“My coach for the Swarm was a guard in college,” Giordano said. “He would help me a lot with ball handling, shooting off the dribble, shooting off the curl, a lot of that stuff.”

Giordano continues to put those lessons to work, as the minute he walks into the gym at practice he embarks on several different ball handling skills.

The other big factor for a floor general is seeing the entire court and knowing how to get the ball to the right player. One of those skills comes naturally.

“Honestly I think the one part of my game I’ve been gifted with is I’ve always been a good passer,” Giordano said. “I feel like my court vision is my best asset.”

That vision has been enhanced by another sport, as Giordano played soccer for the first time in ninth grade and went on to become a three-year varsity starter in goal for Steinert.

“Playing soccer was maybe one of the smartest decisions I ever made, because it’s honestly translated into basketball,” Giordano said. “It’s helped my reflexes on pass deflections. I’m a court general, it’s easy to sort out the (opposing) defense, tell my guys where to go if they need to be guided.”

Which is much of what he did as a goalie when organizing the defense. Only in basketball, it’s an offensive asset. The coach firmly agreed with his player about the soccer factor.

“He always wants to help the team out whenever he can, and I think one of the biggest things he’s done that really has helped us out in basketball is that he’s a soccer goalie,” Flanagan said. “From that he learned to direct traffic and things like that, and it’s translated here to really go ahead and keep guys organized and rotate through.”

Giordano played on the freshman soccer team but made the varsity basketball team that winter and saw some substantial playing time. He also endured growing pains. Flanagan did not take over the Spartans until Giordano’s sophomore year, but got to watch him play as a 9th-grader.

“He’s so competitive, being a freshman and having that opportunity to play he wanted to make the most of everything,” Flanagan said. “But he was young as far as recognizing situations and basketball IQ. But he’s really developed into a nice player for us and really matured a lot.

That maturity evidenced itself quickly. Giordano averaged four assists and two rebounds as a sophomore, four assists, four rebounds and two steals as a junior and three assists, four rebounds and two steals through the first half of this season.

His assists are down only because he has been scoring more and a player can’t assist himself. Giordano spent much of the summer strengthening his body, knowing that despite his height he was going to be posted down low at times to try and score inside. He also continued to focus on his perimeter game.

“I’ve been working on my shot a lot,” Giordano said. “Once your shot starts falling it opens up a lot more. You can pump fake, drive and kick. The shot opens up a lot of things.”

Offense aside, Giordano is also effective at the opposite end of the court.

“He’s 5-foot-7, the whole Rudy (of Notre Dame football fame) thing, but he’s like a cat,” Flanagan said. “He can be all over the place. We ask him to guard the best player and also score the most too and certainly he adapts to whatever we throw at him. He’s a very good athlete and I think he could play two sports in college if he wanted to.”

One is just fine with Giordano, who recently visited Cabrini College to see about playing basketball there.

Wherever he lands, the scrappy guard will continue to live by the advice his father, John, gave him during a tough losing season at Steinert early in his career.

“I would be frustrated and he’d say, ‘Some things you just can’t control,’” Giordano said. “Things like refs, opponents. You just have to do what you can do and do what you can control. Put the ball in the basket, defend, hustle, work hard. I’ve always tried to do that when I’m on the court.”

When watching him play, that’s quite obvious.