When Justin Glenn arrived at Lipscomb, he felt good about his chances to jump onto the court quickly.
Unfortunately, Adnan Hodzic was thinking the same thing.
“I didn’t know he was that good,” Glenn said.
Hodzic, who showed up at Lipscomb one season before Glenn transferred from Centenary (La.) College, ended up having one of the more storied careers in school history. As a junior he averaged more than 20 points and, at the time, he led Division I active players by scoring at least 10 points in 72 straight games.
Glenn, meanwhile, fought for minimal playing time and averaged just eight minutes over two seasons.
“I thought I was going to be able to play more at the forward position,” Glenn said. “But, you know, things work out differently and this is how it ended up. I didn’t play as much and I tried to put the team first in all I was doing and keep a positive attitude.”
His patience is being rewarded.
Finally in the spotlight as a senior, Glenn leads Lipscomb (11-12, 6-5) into Friday’s matchup against Belmont (16-7, 9-2), part two of the annual Battle of the Boulevard series.
Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. at Lipscomb’s Allen Arena. The sold-out contest will be televised on CSS. It marks the schools’ last meeting as Atlantic Sun Conference rivals before Belmont heads to the Ohio Valley Conference next season.
“It has carried a lot of buzz around campus and a lot of people are excited about that,” Glenn said. “Belmont is another game on the schedule but it is also a big game because it is our biggest rival. If we had the opportunity to win both of those games this year, for us moving forward it would give us a lot of momentum.”
Glenn was right in the middle of Lipscomb’s most recent victory over Belmont.
Four weeks ago, the 6-foot-8, 235-pound center filled the box score with 14 points — on 5-of-6 shooting — 10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals. He helped get Belmont’s post players, Scott Saunders and Mick Hedgepeth, in foul trouble as the Bison rallied from a 12-point, second-half deficit and won for the fifth time in the last six meetings between the schools.
“That is probably the best game he has had,” Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said. “He played very well on both ends of the floor and was a presence both offensively and defensively.”
One of just two players to start all 23 games, Glenn averages 8.4 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds in 24.4 minutes. He has blocked a team-high 40 shots.
He shoots 62.3 percent from the field and tends to pull opposing big men away from the basket.
“He is almost more comfortable facing than he is back-to-the-basket moves. He really likes to drive it from 15 feet,” Belmont coach Rick Byrd said. “The thing he did against us is he stood up. We got him guarded, watching his drive, which he is really good at, and he just popped the 15- and 12-footers and made them all.”
A native of Tulsa, Okla., Glenn planned to stay at home and play for Oral Roberts. But when he tore his ACL, those plans changed.
“Some things ended up where it didn’t happen where I ended up there. So I went to the closest school in the same conference so I could play Oral Roberts, kind of out of spite,” Glenn said. “Not a good reason to pick a school.”
Glenn stayed in the Summit League and attended Centenary for just one year. But he said the school “wasn’t where I felt like I wanted to be.” Plus, the athletics department was on the verge of transitioning to NCAA Division III.
Coincidentally, Glenn’s first collegiate game at Centenary was against Lipscomb. On Nov. 9, 2007, the schools met in a tournament at Iowa State. Glenn started and attempted just two shots and didn’t score, grabbed three rebounds and fouled out with two seconds left in a Centenary victory.
A few months later, when he announced he was transferring, Lipscomb called.
“I don’t know how they found me. But they did and it is a blessing,” he said. “I came out here [for a visit], fit in right with some of the guys — Brian Wright, Brandon Brown and Josh Slater. I felt like I had known those guys for forever. So when I came here, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is definitely the place I want to be.’”
He sat out the 2008-09 season due to NCAA transfer rules and then waited his turn behind Hodzic.
“He kind of bided his time,” Sanderson said. “Adnan turned out to be Adnan and [Glenn] just didn’t get as much of an opportunity to play. To his credit, he stayed the course and stayed positive and kept working. A lot of times kids don’t wait that long for their opportunity to come and he did and that is a credit to him and the kind of person he is.”
In the meantime, he took advantage of a paid education. He is finishing up his master’s degree and is slated to start a job this summer for Deloitte & Touche, an accounting consulting firm.
“Ultimately, something we always forget, we are here to be student-athletes,” Glenn said. “Being able to get my master’s degree paid for ... and being at a great community like Lipscomb University has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.”