Getting the latest start of any of the area college basketball teams, Whitworth Pirates coach Matt Logie finally on Thursday gets to see in person how all the new pieces fit into a team coming off two straight seasons that finished with the same 26-4 record.
The Pirates have seven new players, all with freshman eligibility, to go along with the four starting players who made the nucleus of the team that posted those impressive records. The Pirates lost starting guard Wade Gebbers and forward Mack Larkin to graduation.
“We have a lot of new people to integrate and ingrain into our system,” Logie said of the recruits that make up seven of his 16-player roster.
Returning for Whitworth are senior guards Dustin McConnell and Colton McCargar, who will lead the perimeter-based attack with returning starting forward Christian Jurlina, a 6-foot-4, 213-pound sophomore; and starting post player Taylor Farnsworth, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound junior.
“We are excited about their experience and the leadership they bring,” said, Logie who is entering his third season with a 52-8 overall record.
McConnell, 5-foot-11, 172-pound guard from Clarkston, is the leading returning scorer with 13.7 points per game and 4.2 rebounds. He’s followed closely by McCargar, a 6-foot-2, 187-pound junior from Richland, who averaged 13 points and 4 rebounds last year.
Logie also mentioned senior Robby Douglas, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound senior guard from Shadle Park, who provided quality minutes off the bench.
“He’s been a guy asked to come off the bench and produce in big situations and he did that,” Logie said of Douglas. “To have at least one person who will come off the bench and contribute is big.”
On Thursday, Logie will get his first look at what he called an impressive group of recruits. The team has a month to prepare before its opening game Nov. 15 versus Trinity. That game will be played in Tacoma.
Austin Wood: The 5-foot-10, 150-pound sophomore, joined Whitworth after taking a redshirt year at Hawaii Pacific University. Originally of Broomfield, Colo., Wood led his high school team to a 25-2 record. He was the Northern League Player of the Year and All-State honoree with averages of 13 points and five rebounds a game.
Christian Jurlina: The 6-foot-5, 184-pound freshman from Sydney, Australia, is expected to play a wing. “He’s a guy who can defend taller players and still bring the ball handling skills that we thrive on,” Logie said. Jurlina averaged 19.3 points and 6.2 rebounds at Sydney Boys School and 22.5 points a game for the New South Wales U20 team in a series of games with the Chinese U17 team.
Kenny Love: The 6-foot-1, 212-pound guard from Santa Rosa, Calif., gives Logie a bigger-bodied guard. “He has a great feel for the game and a very good finisher. We are excited about both he and Austin” Wood.
Kionte Brown: The 6-foot-1, 181-pound guard comes to Whitworth from Shadle Park where he missed his senior year as a result of a knee injury. As a junior, Brown averaged 14.4 points and 4 rebounds for the Highlanders. Logie said Brown appears to have fully recovered from the injury and is ready to start practice with the team. “He’s probably our most athletic perimeter player in terms of the combination of strength, quickness and jumping ability.”
Gabe Carter: Another projected wing player, the 6-foot-4, 179-pound freshman from Sequim, Wash., “does a bit of everything well. He rebounds, can pass and can shoot,” Logie said.
Riley Moreen: The 6-foot-7, 182-pound forward from Coeur d’Alene’s Lake City, averaged 10.3 points and 7.9 rebounds during his senior season.
Drew Sears: The 6-foot-10, 215 freshman from Stanwood, Wash., provides the size coaches covet for a post player. “He’s figuring out how to be physical and continuing to grow into his body. We think he has some unique skills that translate into what we do.” Sears averaged 8.9 points and 8.4 rebounds and 3.8 blocks a game his senior season.