The doors to King Arena closed for the last time this season on the senior-less senior night with an 81-67 victory over Illinois Wesleyan. This victory capped an impressive home schedule for the men’s basketball team. Coming into the year, the team was young and looking to shoot their way to a strong season after a very disappointing 2015-2016 season. On the bright side, if you look at Wheaton’s home victories alone, they doubled last year’s total victories with a home record of 10-3.
A few rising stars made a major difference this year, and the lack of senior leadership gave juniors, sophomores and freshman the opportunity to step up and develop. Sophomore transfer Aston Francis played a huge role, leading the team in scoring all season with 23.9 points per game and countless incredible shots and memorable performances. Francis has been showered with awards after the team’s season as he was honored with a spot on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Second Team All-Central Region, the First Team All-CCIW and d3hoops.com All-Central Region First Team.
Junior Ricky Samuelson led the team in junior class production with 12.4 points per game. Sophomores Luke Peters, Trevor Gunter, Reagan Jones and Kobe Eichelberger also increased their productivity giving the boys a diversely talented squad that can spread the floor, shoot threes and drive to the rim. Peters averaged 8.8 points per game and 5.6 rebounds. Eichelberger averaged 6.8 points per game and Gunter and Jones were right around five points per game.
The team improved greatly this year — particularly at home — but there was little improvement in the away schedule. The boys ended the season at 2-10 away and 0-2 in neutral locations. The exciting thing about a young team on the come up is the great potential for improvement. This year King Arena witnessed great strides forward and an exciting homestand. Next year shows great promise of similar improvement and some strong seniors as well.