Emerson’s men’s basketball has a packed team as four new recruits join 10 seniors and five others for the 2015-16 season.
Head coach Bill Curley said these rookies can learn much from the Lions’ seniors in practice but will also be able to play with the veterans in games.
“The freshmen don’t have to carry the burden,” Curley said. “They can be part of the puzzle.”
Curley said these recruits understand where the basketball team is right now.
“They see the opportunity here with the way the whole program is developing in terms of the athletic department and in the NEWMAC,” Curley said. “I think all four of them will have an impact this year.”
While searching for future Lions last year, Curley said height was on his mind, and ended up finding 7-foot-1 Mac Sashin and 6-foot-10 Will Lantier.
Curley said he was surprised he managed to get both of them.
“Getting bigger was a priority,” Curley said. “And sometimes recruiting gets a little lucky and you take what you can get.”
Sashin, a Massachusetts native, comes to Emerson after an all-star senior season at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
He said so far at the collegiate level he has learned that every player on the court is talented, so the game has become more strategic.
“Everyone has somewhat of an ability to score or play defense. There’s no one you can’t pay attention to,” Sashin, a journalism major, said. “You have to be able to think on your feet and know different situations.”
As the tallest member on the roster, the center said he brings everything one would expect out of a big man under the basket but with more intensity.
“I think I bring a defensive presence. I bring in rebounding, and, overall, energy,” Sashin said. “I really want us to bond and make sure everyone is successful.”
Lantier, the near seven footer from St. Anthony’s High School in Long Island, said his inexperience in college basketball will make it difficult to score, but his height will have an impact in other areas.
“I don’t think any plays are going to be made for me,” Lantier, a marketing communication major, said. “I think I’m going to get the offensive rebounds and get the easy blocks because I’m tall.”
Curley said he is thankful he has both for the season.
“I think we stole them,” Curley said. “In a couple years, they’re going to be really good if they keep working the way they have been.”
The other two newcomers, point guards Alex Miles and Geoffrey Gray, may not have the size of Sashin and Lantier, but Curley said he likes their ability to control the ball and make opportunities for others.
“They’re team players,” Curley said. “They have the ability to shoot the ball, and the ability to get by their man and create for somebody else.”
Miles came to Emerson after earning a league MVP award as a senior at Crossroads School in Santa Monica. The 5-foot-11 Los Angeles native said he spoke with Curley often during that time.
“[Curley] told me about their struggles with the guard position and the defensive struggles,” Miles said.
Miles said he doesn’t expect to be a star right off, but the marketing communication major does believe he can eventually become Emerson’s top point guard.
“I expect to be a huge facilitator,” Miles said. “The one that can be trusted when it comes down to the wire to have the ball in my hands.”
Gray, who is 6-foot-1 and from Newton, Massachusetts, is also looking to play at the point guard position. He earned the award of league MVP as a junior at Newton South High School.
Gray said he is comfortable leading the Lions on the court because it mirrors his playstyle.
“The biggest thing for me is to make sure I can run the offense and set guys up because that’s what I like to do,” Gray said. “It’s what I’m good at, and that’s what they want.”
Gray, a marketing communication major, said he plans on taking a back seat with scoring because he is more focused on his four teammates on the court.
“If there are other guards that prefer to be the recipient and get the ball and score, they’d rather have me get the ball to them,” Gray said. “Because that’s what I’ve been good at through my high school career.”
Curley said he has been impressed with Miles and Gray’s progress on the court and believes that upperclassmen feel the same way.
“They’re not stepping on people’s toes,” Curley said. “There’s no nonsense because they know these guys are going to give them the ball.”