Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, December 16, 2018

Meet the new faces of AU’s men’s basketball

Brennan sees potential for improvement this season with the “hard-working” recruitment class

Meet the new faces of AU’s men’s basketball

Sa'eed Nelson, center, dribbles down the court during a men's basketball game in February 2018. 

After a disappointing 2017-2018 season, the AU men’s basketball team and head coach Mike Brennan are looking to bounce back this year after a summer of heavy recruitment.

The Eagles ended last season with an 8-22 record (5-13 in league play), finishing dead last in the Patriot League.

“Obviously we would have liked to win more games last year,” Brennan said in a recent interview.

Now, after months of recruiting, the program has welcomed three freshmen and a transfer to the squad this fall: Josh Alexander, Jacob Boonyasith, Christian Sutton and Jamir Harris. Brennan has high expectations for each of them.

“The newcomers to our program had an excellent summer,” Brennan said. “[They] worked very hard on the court and in the weight room, making significant progress. They’ll all help our team dramatically in different ways.”

Alexander, a 6-foot-8 forward from Carmel, New York, is known for being a physical post player.

“Josh is a very good passer and physical player in the post,” Brennan said. “He has a very good feel for the game and will help our frontcourt.“

The Eagles averaged just over 65 points per game last season. They hope to improve on that number with the addition of scorer Boonyasith, a 6-foot-3 combo guard from Jenison, Michigan who had three 32-point games in his senior year of high school. Known for being able to knock down open shots and make the right play on the floor, Jenison also earned an all-state honorable mention. Boonyasith is a shooter that will add “to our offensive firepower,” Brennan said.

University of Minnesota transfer Harris will not be eligible to play this season due to NCAA rules. The 6-foot-2 junior, who played guard for Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, is known for his sharp-shooting, averaging four points in 28 games played for the Gophers. When he is eligible to play in the 2019-2020 season, Brennan expects his long-range shooter to “be an aggressive defender and a hard worker.”

One addition to the Eagles’ roster who is eligible to play this season: Sutton, the 6-foot-3 freshman and Atlanta native who is known by his team for being a quick learner on the court.

“Christian is very coachable and makes drastic progress quickly,” Brennan said.

By having team managers who played at the high school level and went through similar experiences as the AU players, the staff can grasp the potential challenges that new players face as they adjust to university life, Brennan said.

“Luckily for me, I have a terrific, experienced staff that mentors and communicates well,” Brennan said.

The Eagles as a whole remain relatively young this season, with only seven upperclassmen on the team, including three seniors and four juniors.

“It’s always a benefit to have an older, more experienced team, and we are getting there,” Brennan said. “The team that usually wins our league is more often than not dominated by upperclassmen.”

While AU does not have as many upperclassmen as other teams in the conference, Brennan feels like his team has “the experience to compete at the top of the league.”

American is set to return all five starters from last year’s team: guards Sa’eed Nelson and Larry Motuzis, forwards Marvin Bragg Jr. and Sam Iorio and center Jesse Little. The Eagles’ season tips off on Friday, Nov. 9 at George Mason University.

mhashash@theeagleonline.com


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