Coach Brett Reed of the Lehigh men’s basketball team had a busy off-season this year in trying to find some new contributors to the team.
Reed ended up adding three freshman guards to the team: Kahron Ross from Arkansas, Tyler Jenkins from Indiana and Brandon Alston from Virginia. All three new players are expected to step into the backcourt.
After going through the recruiting process over the past year, the three young men all picked Lehigh as
the best fit for them out of their whole lists of schools. The Patriot League school has many attributes, both athletically and academically, that made it an attractive option for the recruits.
“One of the biggest things for me was just the academic aspect,” Jenkins said. “A lot of the schools that I was looking (at) were just academic schools and that was big for me because the ball has got to stop bouncing at some point. The league is nice; our non-conference schedule is not a joke. We play teams like Villanova and Arizona State, so I get a taste of everything that I want in my college career.”
According Reed, all of the guards bring something different to the table, and they all have a chance to become positive contributors to the program.
“I think Kahron Ross is in a strong position to impact our program in a very positive way,” Reed said. “From working with him this summer and thus far this fall, he’s demonstrated a high amount of talent and feel for the game.
“Brandon Alston brings a dimension to our program that not a lot of our other players have,” Reed continued. “He has size for the guard position, he has strength and he has the ability to score the basketball, which is valuable in our high octane offense.”
Reed had praise for Jenkins as well.
“Tyler Jenkins comes to our program with a very strong background from a very good high school program,” he said. “You can already (see) some of his tendencies, his mannerisms and his intensity come into the forefront. I think he can be a very strong defender for us in the perimeter position because of his athleticism and his quickness.”
Out of the three of them, Reed pegged Ross as the player that has a very strong chance to have a huge early impact.
The new recruits are expected to step in for former player Mackey McKnight, who graduated last year. McKnight led the team with an average 13.5 points per game last season and was a major contributor to the team that upset Duke University in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Despite the huge shoes needed to be filled, the team has confidence in the three new players.
“This group of guards is very lively and has an endless amount of talent,” junior forward Justin Goldsborough said. “The team as a whole seemed very excited about the incoming freshmen and seemed to welcome them with open arms and guiding hands both on the court and during training.”
The upperclassmen are eager to help the first-years acclimate to balancing college life with the demands of Division I basketball.
“Simply by taking part in all of our team activities, which include on the court things such as workouts, to just telling them what to expect and helping teach them along the way about things we have learned from our own experiences playing Division I basketball,” junior forward Jesse Chuku said. “It will be an experience watching the guys make the transition from playing in high school to playing Division I basketball. The speed of the game, the length of the season, the strategy and even the pure aggression that the game is played with will be much different than what these young men are used to.”
The men’s basketball team has a plethora of returning guards that have seen game action, so it is
uncertain whether or not any of these young men will be stepping into a big role on the team.
Many of the freshmen were put into the rotation last year. In a season consisting of roughly 30 games, the freshmen will normally see at least some time in any given year.
“I hope to see them be able to adjust quickly to college basketball, as it is very much different from the high school and AAU style they recently graduated from,” junior guard Devon Carter said. “That being said, the team does rotate a large amount of players in throughout the course of games, and throughout the season for that matter, so it would not be a huge surprise to see one, two or even all three of these freshmen getting playing time at some point this season.”