McKeesport, Pa. – In his second year at the helm of the Penn State Greater Allegheny men's basketball team, head coach Tyler Care and the group of 19 Lion hopefuls are eager to get the 2015-16 season underway.
This season, Greater Allegheny returns six veterans who led the team to eight wins last season.
Senior guard Jashaun Fontanez (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown West) comes back to GA for his second season with the program, as the USCAA All-American Honorable Mention posted 211 points in 366 minutes played for GA last season, only playing in eleven games for the blue and white. Fontanez racked up 70% (35-of-50) of his free-throws on the season alongside noting 59 rebounds, 38 assists and 12 steals.
Sophomore guard Khari Hicks (East Hills, Pa./Imani Christian Academy) returns to the team after contributing 923 minutes through 26 games for GA last season. The 6-0 guard downed 463 points last season, dishing out 69 assists, 65 rebounds and 42 steals. The sophomore averaged over 20 points per game last season, elevating the Greater Allegheny offense.
The group returns sophomore guard Denzel Boyer-London (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville), who appeared in 15 games for GA with 516 minutes battled. The guard swiped 78 buckets from the floor, as he posted 209 points with 107 assists, 76 rebounds and 29 steals.
"All three of the guards coming back from last year are valuable pieces of the growing program," said Care. "These three hard-working student-athletes are the driving forces on the court and the team will expect big things from them."
Sophomore forward Antonio Lucic-Jozak (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin), sophomore forward Malik Patterson-Brown (Philadelphia, Pa./Roxborough) and junior forward Matt Williams (Philadelphia, Pa./Mastery Charter) are also coming back to add valuable minutes to the Greater Allegheny push this year.
Alongside the six returners, Coach Care has brought in 13 newcomers who are anxious to make their name known. Of the fresh faces, three of the men are junior college transfers along with ten true freshmen.
Junior guard Moe Alli (Edison, N.J./Cardinal McCarrick) is a transfer from Lakeland Community College and compiled a solid two seasons with the team. "We are lucky to have Moe, as he is a great shooter and a very good defender," said Care.
Sophomore forward Curtis Newby (Sharon, Pa./Sharon) comes to the team from Community College of Beaver County, where he played just one season. "Curtis will be a great leader and a strong presence for the men on and off the court."
The third transfer student comes to the team by the way of senior forward Tyler Burkhart (Morgantown, Pa./The Kiski School). The forward has spent time at both CCBC and Penn State Beaver before he traveled to Greater Allegheny. "Tyler will also be a strong leader for the team, as he brings an experienced presence to the team," said Coach Care.
"We also have a great group of freshman coming to the team from local areas and out-of-state, all of whom will see the floor this year."
Players like McKeesport's own freshman guard Jordan Payne (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) look for playing time this year alongside freshman guard Marcus Ball (Warsaw, Va./Rappahannock), freshman forward Isaiah Fluker (Waldorf, Md./Thomas Stone and freshman guard Tyrone Johnson (Hampstead, Md./North Carroll).
Freshman center Brannon Murphy (Pittsburgh, Pa./University Prep), freshman forward Scott Przybysz (Elderton, Pa./West Shamokin), junior guard Shawn Johnson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills) freshman guard Eronn Hammond (Pittsburgh, Pa./Obama Academy), freshman guard Derek Pribanic (Jeannette, Pa./Penn-Trafford) and freshman guard Billy Cummings (North Huntington, Pa./Norwin) will all work for playing time for their first season with the Greater Allegheny Lions.
"We have a very tough schedule this season in order to gear us up for the big playoff push this season," said Care. "Greater Allegheny men's basketball has not been berthed a Penn State University Athletic Conference playoff run in eight seasons, and we are looking to shatter that streak this season.
The men are going up against a pair of NCAA Division II teams this season in California University of Pennsylvania and Slippery Rock University, which should prove to be a very difficult test for our group of athletes."
Coach Care extends, "The fans can look forward to a very exciting brand of basketball, as we will be playing a very fast and up-tempo style of game."
The men have taken victories in both of their scrimmage games this season: a 81-60 triumph over CCBC and a 105-87 win over Penn Highlands. In the first regular season contest of the season, Greater Allegheny were edged out over Westmoreland County Community College by a tally of 75-72.
The Greater Allegheny Lions are set for their first road-trip of the season, as the men travel with the women to Southern Maine and Central Maine Community Colleges. Saturday brings SMCC at 3 p.m. and Sunday brings CMCC at 2 p.m. Both games will be available to follow on live stats and video. Click here to go to the men's schedule.