Men’s basketball recruiting class has big shoes to fill

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Above, senior forward Seth Hinrichs drives to the basket against an Army defender. [Photo by Hana Isihara ‘17]

Michael Keating

The class of 2019 will have to replace three 1000 point scores

As the men’s basketball team’s season starts to wind down, it’s time to start to look at the outlook for next year’s team. With seniors Dan Trist, Seth Hinrichs, Joey Ptasinski and Alan Flannigan all set to graduate, next year’s incoming class will have to fill in the big shoes left empty by their departure.

The freshmen Sam Dunkum, Auston Evans, and Paulius Zalys, should have little to no trouble as they make up one of the strongest recruiting classes under coach Fran O’Hanlon.

Zalys is a 6’7” forward from the Perkiomen School in Pennsburg, PA. A native of Lithuania, Zalys came overseas to play at the private school in his sophomore year. In his junior year, Zalys averaged 17.3 PPG and 6.9 RPG. As a result, Zalys found himself on the Mercury All-Area First Team. Prior to coming to the states to play basketball, Zalys also competed on the Lithuanian U16 national team and earned himself an invitation to the U18 camp. Coach O’Hanlon looks to Zalys to come in and provide depth at the forward position this year.

“He’s a…forward and versatile player who has the ability to post up or play on the perimeter,” O’Hanlon said. “He’s also a very good athlete.”

The 6’6” guard Evans hails from McKinney, TX, and attends the Greenhill School. A four-year varsity player, Evans averaged double-digit points every year in high school. During his junior season, Evans averaged 16.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 3.5 APG. Due to his stellar play, Evans was named to an All-Southwest Preparatory Conference Team each year in his high school career, as well as his own team’s MVP each season since his sophomore year. O’Hanlon sees Auston as a good replacement to Ptasinski and sees him getting solid playing time his first year.

“Auston is very good at driving to the basket,” O’Hanlon said. “He should add to our overall perimeter size.”

The third and final member of the Class of 2019 is 6’10” center, Dunkum. Dunkum, who is from Little Rock, AR, currently plays basketball at North Little Rock High School after transferring from Little Rock Christian Academy following his sophomore year. Last year, Dunkum helped lead his school to both a conference and state championship. Although, he averaged just 6.0 PPG and 6.0 RPG, his impact was seen on the other side of the ball. The big man averaged nearly 4.0 blocks per game.

Dunkum, who will likely become a fan favorite due to his pun-lending last name is long-term project for O’Hanlon. He believes that Dunkum has a lot of room to grow in regards to his offensive game, and has a great amount of untapped potential.

“He is good defensively around the basket and a good rebounder that is still developing his offensive skills,” O’Hanlon said.

Next season, after all members of the school’s first trio of 1000-point scorers depart, O’Hanlon is going to need to find players to fill in those holes. After already hinting at the fact that these players would see decent playing time, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a player or two out of this class become a key contributor to the team next year. Only time will tell if it can become one of the same caliber as the one it is replacing.