McKeesport, PA. – The Penn State Greater Allegheny Men’s Basketball team has been one of the most successful teams across all of the Penn State University Athletic Conference over the last three seasons. They have made the playoffs in each of the last three years and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Tournament in two of the three years with an overall record of 56-28 over that time frame.
Gone are all-time career assist leader Khari Hicks and all-time career rebound leader Curtis Newby, but in their place are some fresh young talent and strong veteran leadership that will look to make it four straight trips to the PSUAC playoffs for the Men’s Basketball team. Head Men’s Basketball coach Tyler Care says that this year’s team is one of the most talented teams he has had in his five-year tenure as coach.
“I am extremely excited for this season,” said Care. “We have the most talent that we have ever had here at GA and our expectations are very high. We have a great group of core players back led by senior all-american Jordon Payne as well as some great new editions.”
PSUGA’s leader Jordon Payne (McKeesport, PA./McKeesport HS) had a career year last season scoring 558 points while averaging 19.9 points per game. He passed the 1,000-career point milestone and currently has 1,308 points in his PSUGA career. Payne was known as one of the best three-point shooters across the PSUAC last season leading the conference with a 42.4 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
Joining Payne on the offensive side of the ball will be junior Kenny Rouse (Duquesne, PA./West Mifflin HS) who led the bench last season averaging 10.9 points per game while grabbing a career high 130 rebounds. The transfer from PSU-New Kensington will be relied on more heavily in the starting lineup this season as PSUGA looks to continue to put up big offensive numbers against opponents.
On the defensive side of the ball senior George Prota (Elizabeth, PA./Elizabeth Forward HS) returns as Care’s big man under the net. After pulling in 157 rebounds in a year where he missed some games due to injury, Prota looks to come back strong in his senior season and provide that presence under the net that PSUGA loss with Newby.
Prota will get some help from junior Makis Rivera (Pittsburgh, PA./Imani Christian Academy) and senior Mhonte Newsome (Baltimore, MD./Our Lady of Mt. Carmel). Rivera pulled down 122 rebounds while scoring 165 points in 25 games played a year ago while Newsome had 79 rebounds and 93 points in 26 games played. Both men will be relied on to keep opponents under the 80-point mark, a goal set forth by Care and his coaching staff.
Joining this group of veterans will be newcomers to PSUGA looking to make their presence felt right away. Senior Antonio Hill (West Mifflin, PA./West Mifflin HS), a transfer from PSU-New Kensington, and freshman Brian Davidson (Pittsburgh, PA./Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic HS) each look to make their mark in 2018-2019.
Hill was the third leading scorer for New Kensington a year ago averaging 13.1 points per game and pulling in 175 rebounds. Davidson, a North Catholic High School graduate, was named an all-star MVP in his senior season and received the 6th man award for his work during his senior season.
The 2018-2019 season will be head coach Tyler Care’s fifth season at the helm of the PSUGA Men’s Basketball program. He is the all-time winningest coach in program history with a career record of 64-46 over his first four seasons. He took a team that was just 9-17 and turned them into PSUAC champions in just three seasons.
Care is excited for the upcoming year and sees it as a chance for his team to redeem themselves from last season. After falling short in both the PSUAC playoffs and the USCAA National Tournament, his team is hungry for success in 2018-2019.
“We have our sights set on another PSUAC title and another national championship run,” said Care. “The guys have been working extremely hard this year and I love the effort and energy every day. We have another challenging schedule this season and look forward to an exciting year.”
The PSUGA Men’s Basketball season kicks off on Friday November 2nd when they take on Butler County CC at 8 p.m. inside the Wunderly Gymnasium. However, they will have two chances to warm-up before then with scrimmages on October 19th at Penn Highlands and a home scrimmage on Saturday October 27th vs. Seton Hill.
With basketball season quickly approaching, Care and his team have just one thing on their mind and that is winning.