Since the offseason is most definitely here due to the virus, let’s talk about YSU players and the seasons they had. I’ll start with Darius Quisenberry, Naz Bohannon and Michael Akuchie. These were mostly the Penguins best guys this year.
In a season that ended as abruptly as ever, Youngstown State men’s basketball program showed just what patience does for a program.
When Jerrod Calhoun took over the program before the 2017-2018 season, it seemed like the Penguins didn’t have any direction on and off the court. We’re talking about a program that had not won more than seven games in the Horizon League since 2012. The Penguins only won more games than it lost once. That was a 10-8 conference record in 2011-12. That’s it.
To say he took over a lifeless program would be an understatement. In his third season, YSU finally looked like a team that was meant to be toward the top of the conference.
With a 10-8 conference record, the Penguins recorded only the second winning HL record in the last 10 years. So many great things happened that need to be put in words.
It’s been a while since YSU has recruited a player this good that runs its offense. Kendrick Perry brings to mind the last true point guard that was as good as Quisenberry was this year. After being the first freshman in YSU history to make an all-Conference team, he raised his game another level.
He averaged 16.6 points per game, 3.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals. With that performance, he earned all-Horizon League first team. That made him the first player in school history to make all-Conference teams in his first two years.
The numbers don’t say everything. He was not only a leader in numbers but a leader emotionally. His ability to command the floor and the respect of his peers was essential.
Bohannon is another guy that played better than ever. As one of Calhoun’s first major recruits, he showed every bit of that. He also gave the Penguins just what it needed at all times. He’s the heart and soul. Dennis Rodman of the team of you will.
He averaged career-highs in points (11.2 per game), rebounds (8.6), offensive rebounds (4.0), shooting percentage (51.7) and even 3-point percentage (25.0). He also averaged 12.9 points and 8.9 rebounds.
He was everything and more for the Penguins when they needed him most. Going into his senior season, he needs just 176 points and 215 rebounds to be the first player in school history to hit 1,000 in both categories.
As probably the most surprising improvement for YSU, Akuchie seemed to finally fit exactly what Calhoun wanted from him.
He started 29 games and played in all 33 games this season. He averaged career-highs in points (9.0), rebounds (6.1), steals (0.9), blocks (0.7) and assists (0.6). He also shot a career-high 40.4 percent in 26.1 minutes.
The only categories he was truly down on were 3-point percentage at 28.7 and free throw percentage at 73.9 but his usage was much higher than his first two years.
Taking the next step is the most important thing for him and this team going into his senior season. Akuchie L’s ability to step up and improve was so vital to the Penguins success.
Garrett Covington, Jelani Simmons and Devin Morgan are the next group of guys that I’ll discuss in the next installment of Season in Review.