Six freshmen have been added to the men’s basketball team in 2020, making 11 out of 14 players on the roster underclassmen.
After adding five freshmen in 2019, Lehigh has gotten even younger in 2020 and now has one of the youngest rosters in the Patriot League. Senior guard Marques Wilson represents Lehigh’s lone senior for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Head coach Brett Reed believes his team can benefit from its youthful core.
“I think it’s a fun and interesting dynamic when you have a lot of youth and energy coming into your team,” Reed said. “In many respects, these guys are fresh to college basketball, excited about moving forward, and that brings a great deal of energy.”
While having so many underclassmen may pose some challenges, Reed said he has been impressed with the development of his younger players.
Despite losing Pat Andree to early graduation in 2019 and senior James Karnik in 2020 after his transfer to Boston College, Reed feels the team still has leadership present.
“The good thing is the emergence of some of our other promising young big men has been really impressive thus far through our preseason, but also shows some indications of how strong of a player (junior center) Nic Lynch can be at a league level,” Reed said.
Sophomore guard Reed Fenton said while the coronavirus pandemic has posed difficulties in training thus far, it hasn’t been a big issue.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” Fenton said. “It’s something that we’ll have to deal with, but it’s not really a big setback. We’ve been able to get in the gym, even if that means one person per basket.”
These days, practices look a lot different.
Freshman forward and center Dominic Parolin said that, as of now, only four people are allowed per hoop.
Despite the added challenge of having 11 underclassmen, Parolin said the team has been able to adjust to the mental and physical implications of having a young team.
“A lot of sophomores have taken leadership roles that juniors and seniors would have taken in the past,” Parolin said. “Even the freshmen, including myself, have done a good job of leading ourselves in places where we might have had guidance from an older player.”
Fenton said, while experience plays a big role in winning games, he’s excited for the dynamic of a younger roster and said it allows everyone to understand their roles.
Parolin said the freshmen are paying extra addition to sharpening their fundamental skills to ensure they can compete with the rest of the team.
“To account for the lack of experience that we have we’ll need to play disciplined as a team to avoid making any mistakes that a young team would be expected to make,” Parolin said.
Due to COVID-19 guidelines, there has not been an opportunity for the whole team to come together to discuss their expectations in-person, but Reed has a thorough understanding of his own.
“We have to be very purpose-driven but also flexible enough to deal with an ever-changing climate of how we compete and what it looks like,” Reed said.
Reed said he is looking forward to seeing the blend of new personalities and overcoming the challenges that will likely be presented to him and the team.
Reed said no coach has ever come out of a pandemic and tried to have a season, so he is excited for the situation in that sense.
“Even though I’m on the front side of it, I want to master it to the best of my ability, maneuver every step carefully and craft a season as best I can for these young men,” Reed said.