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Junior guard Andrew Laczkowski drives to the basket against Harvard's Chris Ledlum during this season's matchup at the Palestra on Jan. 28. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

For Penn men’s basketball junior guard Andrew Laczkowksi, playing at the collegiate level seemed all too inevitable. His parents were both distinguished athletes at Washington University in St. Louis, so it’s no surprise that athleticism is ingrained within the Laczkowski family’s blood. 

Throughout his childhood, Laczkowski was inspired by his father, who he called "without a doubt my biggest inspiration surrounding my interest in basketball." He added that his father's own collegiate basketball career led to him watching college basketball often as a kid. 

Laczkowski came into Penn with an already impressive list of accolades to his name, being a four-year letter winner, two-year captain, and two-time team MVP at St. Mark’s School. During his senior year of high school, Laczkowski led his team to a 29-4 record and a regional conference championship. Off the court, Laczkowski was also a standout leader and honor roll student.

As a result of his success in high school, Laczkowski had options when it came to where he would play in college. While he admits that making a decision on where to commit to was tough, his choice to become a Quaker came down to the legendary history behind Penn’s basketball teams and the overall feel he developed when visiting Penn.

“The supports, history, aura around Penn basketball, and the history behind the Palestra are what won me over," he said.  

But Laczkowski found himself without a freshman season upon arriving at Penn after the Ivy League canceled winter sports due to COVID-19. 

“In the sense of getting here as a freshman and not having a season, it certainly did have an impact on me," he said. "There was a lot of self-doubt, and sometimes you don’t play as well as you hope.”

One of the things that kept Laczkowski going through a tough freshman season, when he was battling a knee injury on top of everything else, was the sense of camaraderie with his teammates. He equated the team to a brotherhood, saying "in terms of the group of guys, there’s nobody else I’d wanna play with.” 

Despite the setbacks, Laczkowski has persisted, always putting in maximum effort on the court, even though he averaged just under seven minutes a game last season. Teammates particularly praise his intensity and competitive drive, which they say spread throughout the team whenever he's on the court. 

“I think his greatest strength is that he lifts the level of intensity of all his teammates," sophomore guard Reese McMullen said. "The way he plays is contagious and he competes on every rebound, loose ball, and the like.” 

This year, it's been paying off. Laczkowski's minutes have increased as the season goes on. Against Columbia on Feb. 3, the 6'6" guard had seven points, five rebounds, and two blocks in 19 minutes off the bench. 

Laczkowski's impact goes beyond the stat sheet, too. In the words of coach Steve Donahue, Laczkowski's "ready to do whatever it takes to help the guys win.”