The Youth Movement is in and ready for the Penguins
I know you haven’t heard from me for a while but I’m back and better than ever. Alright that’s a lie but don’t worry about that.
Let us all instead worry about Youngstown State University men’s basketball.
This could be a long one so buckle up my friends.
YSU’s off-season has been interesting to say the least. Between graduation, transfer season and recruiting, the Penguins will look much different this upcoming campaign. Let’s first talk about the new guys on campus and what they may provide.
Tevin Olison – Olison comes to YSU after two seasons with NAIA University of Cumberlands and two years with Cleveland State Community College. He averaged 23 points per game last year as a senior. He scored 20-plus points in 19 games and 30-plus points in three games. He was also a two-time NAIA Second-Team All-American. If he can score the way he did at U of C, he could see himself getting a ton of playing time. He will have one year remaining since he is using this extra year as a senior.
Collen Gurley – Gurley is a guy who is semi-local and has stayed local his entire career. He graduated from Akron Archbishop Hoban before playing through his junior year at the University of Mount Union.
Dwayne Cohill – Another somewhat local guy, Cohill went to Holy Name in Cleveland and comes to YSU after three years at the University of Dayton. Despite missing last season due to injury, he played in 30 games off the bench for the Flyers in 2019-20 where he averaged just a few points per game in about 13 minutes per game. Could be a nice part of the Penguins bench this year.
Owen Long – After two years at Maryville College in St. Louis, MO, Long comes to YSU after averaging 19.3 points per game. He’s a shooting specialist which is exactly what this team needs to succeed. He shot 47 percent from the field while hitting 42.3 percent from three. He also hit on 88.4 percent of his free throws which is something the Penguins have been very poor with.
Jacori Owens – The first non-transfer on this list, the 6-foot-9 forward comes from Combine Academy near Charlotte, NC. He averaged a double-double as a senior with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The most important part is the three blocks per game he averaged. Hopefully he will eventually add some much needed defensive presence that has been missing for a while.
Michael Lucarotti – He comes to YSU after three years at Erie Cathedral Prep before transferring to International Sports Academy in Ohio. He scored over 1,300 points in his high school. At 6-foot-4, he could become the type of size this program needs at the guard position to compete in this league.
Josh Irwin – Irwin, like Lucarotti, played his senior season at International Sports Academy in Ohio. He played his first three seasons at West Geauga High School. In his junior season, Irwin averaged 22.7 points per game with 12.3 rebounds while hitting 62 3-pointers. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward is exactly the size of small forward that could take this team to the next level. We will see if his size helps him at this level.
Chris Shelton – Shelton comes from Hampton University in Virginia. He may be the most complete player of all the new transfer athletes. He averaged 9.8 points per game while hitting 49.2 percent of his shots. He led the nation by hitting 48.6 percent of his 3-point attempts with 67 made threes. Hopefully he can immediately make an impact from that area which the Penguins struggled with as well.
Garrett Covington – Covington has had one of the more frustrating careers but still an illustrious career nonetheless. He may have never flourished as an offensive weapon but his defense makes up for a lot of those things. Unlike Naz Bohannon, Covington will finish his five-year career with the Penguins. That’s a big deal considering Bohannon and himself were head coach Jerrod Calhoun’s first two legitimately recruited players. Hopefully he can step up a bit on offense this season. He averaged 12.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 steals. Those were all career-highs. Hopefully, this season is more of the same.
Michael Akuchie – Akuchie had by far his best season in a Penguin uniform in his fourth season in Youngstown. He averaged 9.9 points per game with 8.6 rebounds. He scored double figures 15 times while snatching 10+ rebounds eight times. He also broke a Horizon League and YSU record with 24 rebounds against Robert Morris University. Another improved season could really help the Penguins this year.
Shemar Rathan-Mayes – He may be the most exciting guy in this potential starting lineup. He started 22 of the 24 games he played in. As a true freshman, he was sprung into the starting point guard job because of injuries and he flourished. He averaged 10.4 points per game while hitting only 36.2 percent of his shots. He averaged 3.5 assists to 1.7 turnovers. If he can continue to develop into a true point guard, he can easily be this team’s starter for the next three years.
Myles Hunter – Hunter is another young, exciting player that played quite a lot last season. He’s a guy who could best be described as a tweener at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds. He’s most likely a starting shooting guard on this team. He started 12 of the 23 games played. He scored 6.2 points, and 2.0 rebounds. He shot under 40 percent from the field and from three. He did whoever hit over 80 percent of his free throws. If his shooting percentages go up, this team will be easily better.
Jamir Thomas/William Dunn – It’s hard to say exactly who the fifth starter will be because it’s hard to tell what the Penguins will want to do more of. I can see both Dunn and Thomas starting in the middle. When this team wants to be a little more brutal and rough down low, I think that’s where Thomas is the better fit. When YSU wants to spread the floor, they can turn to Dunn who can shoot the ball enough to be respectable. Other than those two options, I’m not totally sure who will be a starter this year.
The Penguins will have a lot of things to work on before the season begins. I’d like to say that the Penguins will be a top-5 team in this league but it could very well go the other way in quite a hurry. This team is young and fresh. It will take time to get where it needs to go so patience will need to be aplenty.
The outlook for this team is almost hard to nail down. This will be a very young team without a ton of experience. Well, I should say it has experience but not experience that was already on this roster. Hopefully, the experience that has transferred in will mix correctly with the youth that is on this roster. Luckily for YSU, the young guys actually got a lot of playing time. This team will be quite young one through 15 and the Penguins need to lean into that. Whether that ends up being good or bad, it will turn out to be just what this program needs.
Either way, this team will look to get out and run while hitting a lot of outside shots. Does this team have those proper pieces? Hopefully. Will they all be used correctly? Hopefully. Either way, it’s going to be another fun year of Youngstown State basketball.
Miss anything from Preview Week? Check it all out below:
Cleveland State • Wright State • Milwaukee • Detroit Mercy
Northern Kentucky • Oakland • Purdue Fort Wayne • Youngstown State
UIC • Robert Morris • Green Bay • IUPUI
Green Bay (WBB) • Cleveland State (WBB)