By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team is trying to rebuild after a disappointing 2014-2015 season that resulted in a last-place finish in the conference.
After finishing 11-21, 2-14 in Horizon League play, YSU has seen a mass exodus from the program. The program will have to deal with the loss of starting point guard DJ Cole and small forward Shawn Amiker who are leaving due to graduation.
Several players from last season’s roster have decided to transfer to other universities following the Horizon League tournament. The members of the roster that will be transferring include junior shooting guard Shaun Stewart, junior small forward Larry Johnson, Jr., sophomore small forward Jalon Plummer, sophomore small forward Osandai Vaughn and sophomore point guard Marcus Keene.
The team is losing impactful players that would have been key to the program’s future success. Keene was vital to YSU’s offense and defense — he led the team with 15.6 points per game and steals, 1.09 steals per game. Vaughn led the team with a 42 percent 3-point percentage.
Johnson, Stewart and Plummer played significant minutes, but didn’t make much of a significant impact statistically. The program was looking to the previously mentioned players to make a significant contribution to the team next season.
Head coach Jerry Slocum and the rest of the coaching staff have made an attempt to improve the program’s recruiting class. At the end of the season, the recruiting class consisted of three players: Jordan Andrews, Latin Davis and Devin Haygood.
Andrews averaged 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-5 forward led his team to its third straight Louisiana State Championship in 2014-2015.
Davis, a 5-foot-11 guard, averaged 18.8 points per game in the regular season at Milan High School in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Davis improved his performance during the 2014-2015 playoffs — averaging 22.4 points per game. Davis finished second in school history in career points and was named the Ann Harbor News Player of the Year.
Unlike the other members of the 2015 recruiting class, Haygood doesn’t have many accolades but has performed consistently at the high school level. Haygood is a 6-foot-7 small forward and received a two-star rating while in high school. He averaged 13.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
YSU recently acquired junior college transfer Matt Donlan, a 6-foot-7 forward from Iowa Western Community College. Last season Donlan averaged 11.7 points per game and shot 44 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Donlan began his career at South Dakota State University. While at SDSU, Donlan came off the bench to appear in seven games. He only made one shot his freshman season, but he only attempted four shots that year.
All three recruits were two-star athletes. The addition of Donlan gives the Penguins a recruit with collegiate experience. Donlan brings more clout to a recruiting class that has big shoes to fill next season.