The Gorloks expect to use returning players and their versatility to make-up for preseason setbacks.
Youth movement for men’s basketball
Months after Webster University hit unprecedented rates with 525 first-time freshman, the men’s basketball team is also well on its way into the history books with a record-setting 14 freshman and transfers joining the club for the upcoming season.
The Gorloks’ roster became depleted after losing much of their core to graduation, leaving only eight players from the previous season’s roster. Head coach Chris Bunch added 14 recruits, setting the tone for what figures to be a unique 2017 campaign.
“We knew we’d only have six or seven (players) coming in,” Bunch said. “Not knowing who would stay, we wanted to make sure we had a lot of guys.”
Of the 14 recruits, the Gorloks acquired four from Florida, coming in the form of Rodson Etienne, Lance Hatten, Christian Crespo and Marvin Saintolien.
The Gorloks also will bring in Owen Atkinson and Austin Nation from Oklahoma City; Dalton Stephens and Dylan Hunt from Illinois; and Noah Baker and DeAndre Rollins from Missouri.
The other players include: Nigel Wilcox (Georgia), Elijah Macias (Texas), Justin Tarplin (Michigan) and Nathan Hall (Tennessee).
Freshman Justin Tarplin weighed in on how the experience has gone thus far, with having 14 freshman on the team.
“It’s pretty cool because we are all experiencing things for the first time together,” Tarplin said. “It gets us competitive as we are all fighting for minutes, and it’s really fun to have high energy practices.”
The Gorloks have made recruiting moves before, but never at this high of a rate. Prior to last season, the team snagged ten recruits.
According to Bunch, the process of seeking out players in different states is typically by word of mouth and online recruiting.
Even with the influx of talent and uncertainty, Bunch saw plenty of positives from his new group.
“The guys are really enthusiastic,” Bunch said. “They do workouts on their own, and come in and shoot, and get in the gym on their own time.”
Last season, the Gorloks finished at 14-12, which included an 11-7 record in conference games. The Gorloks ultimately lost in 75-61 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) tournament against Westminster College.
Along with the overall experience of having 14 freshmen on the team this season, Hall believes that team chemistry will be one of the factors heading into the future.
“It makes you work harder, cause you know that you’ll be with them all four years,” Hall said. “You get to know them better, and by your fourth year here, you’ll have so much chemistry with those fourteen people. It’s going to be nice.”
Bunch’s group heads into the new season with none of their top eight scorers returning from last season. Sophomore forward Enrique Tankins is the leading scorer returning this season.
“It’s been the most enthusiastic bunch I’ve had so far, as far as coming in the gym and working out on their own,” Bunch said. “There’s some in there on the shooting machine, and at any given time of the day.”