Continued guard play paramount to YSU’s success

For the Youngstown State Penguins, great guard play will be paramount to continued success.

The players pictured (Garrett Covington (#32), Olamide Pederson (#23), Jelani Simmons (#2) and Darius Quisenberry (#3)) will all be important.

For years, the Youngstown State men’s basketball team has been mostly unsuccessful. That was until last year’s showing in the Horizon League changed some folks’ minds.

The Penguins will yet again need great guard play to succeed in the 2019-2020 campaign.

Starting with point guard

Last year, Darius Quisenberry gave the Penguins point guard play that it hasn’t had in many years. The last time YSU has a point guard of this skill level was Kendrick Perry between 2011-2014. He made Horizon League First-Team three consecutive times. Quisenberry has the potential to be just as good in his role with the Penguins. He made All-Horizon League second team last year and the All-Freshman team. He became the first freshman to earn all-conference honors.

In 32 starts, he averaged 13.8 points per game, 2.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists on 41 percent shooting with 32 percent from beyond the arc. His continuing improvement will be huge for YSU.

Quisenberry isn’t the only important point guard that will need to play well. Devin Morgan will also play a major role in the Penguins success especially at point guard.

Morgan, while not a starter for the most part, is nearly just as important to Jerrod Calhoun’s offense.

In 23 minutes per game, Morgan averaged 9.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists on 36 percent shooting and 32 percent from three. In order for the Penguins to play 40 minutes of good basketball each game, a guy like Morgan will need to shine in his bench role. Morgan was good in spurts last year and will need to be even more consistent for a better season in Youngstown.

Where’s the shooting guard?

Last year, sophomore Jelani Simmons started 22 games. He averaged 8.1 points per game, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists on 46 percent shooting and 40 percent from three. In his 22 starts, Simmons averaged 8.7 points in 26.4 minutes per game. Simmons second-year improvement will be huge for the Penguins 2019-20 success.

Transfer guard Donel Cathcart III also played an important bench role like Morgan did last year. In 32 games, Cathcart III started in just seven games. He averaged 7.0 points per game on 43 percent shooting.

Third guard play

For the Penguins, they don’t play with a traditional small forward so they have mostly a three-guard system. Last year, Garrett Covington played as YSU’s “small forward.”

Covington averaged 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 42 percent and 34 percent 3-point shooting. In his third year in red and white, another large step up in play will also be important for the team’s success.

Newbies to the scene

Tyler Foster is a transfer from East Carolina University with three years of eligibility left. He played in 30 games and made six starts. He averaged 4.1 points, 1.5 rebounds and 17.2 minutes per game. He was third at ECU with 27 steals. He had multiple steals in seven games.

Kenny Ganley Jr. will be a freshmen from Brecksville-Broadview Heights HS in Northeast Ohio. He was a four-year letterwinner. He averaged 19.6 points and six rebounds as a senior.

Christian Bentley is a transfer from Iowa Western CC of the NAIA. Before that, he played at Siena College. At Iowa Western, he averaged 12 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists. At Siena, Bentley shot 46.5 percent and 50 percent from three.

Daniel Ogoro is a freshman that averaged 12 points, six rebounds, nine assists and two steals per game at Springfield Commonwealth Academy in Massachusetts last season.

All of these players will play a key to all of Youngstown State’s current and future success.

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