The Roosevelt men’s basketball team had some rebuilding to do after losing veteran leaders Tyree York, Joe Harks and Jeremiah Jackson to graduation the year before.
With nearly 60 percent of their previous year’s offense graduating, the Lakers took their lumps during a 12-15 season this past winter.
However, the short-term pain should result in long-term gain. That’s because Head Coach Joe Griffin’s team features young talent who played crucial roles in 2015-16, and those roles will only expand as they gain more experience.
Freshman guard Jake Ludwig proved to be a quick adapter to the college game. The St. Charles, Ill. native burst onto the scene as an offensive catalyst and finished the year leading the Lakers in scoring with 17.9 points per game. Wielding a propensity to get to the rim and make big shots, the 6-foot-1 rookie was named the 2015-16 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year, marking the first time a Roosevelt player has won that award, and an All-CCAC Second Team selection.
“Jake was a breath of fresh air for our program this year,” Griffin said. “What’s most impressive about Jake, however, are his intangibles. His toughness, intensity and desire to win are second to none. He is a special kid with a bright future, and he will be a cornerstone in our continued success as a program.”
Ludwig was joined in the backcourt by another rookie, point guard Kyle Bumbalough from New Castle, Ind. Bumbalough is just 5-foot-9, but his grit and reliable offensive leadership make him a big player in Griffin’s system.
Head Coach Joe Griffin’s team features young talent who played crucial roles in 2015-16, and those roles will only expand as they gain more experience.
“Kyle is one of the toughest little guys that we’ve been around,” said Griffin. “He is unique in that he plays bigger than his size, and he really had a solid freshman year. With more experience he will continue to get better and better. Like Jake, his motor and how hard he plays are his most valuable attributes, and he is as good an example of a true student athlete as there is, sporting a 3.9 GPA as a biology major.”
Sophomore forward Joshua Dillingham proved to be unstoppable at times during his second season. The team’s leading rebounder, Dillingham is a Bolingbrook, Ill.-native who showed flashes of dominance in the post when he was able to stay out of foul trouble. He provided Roosevelt fans a first-hand glimpse of his potential when he scored a career-high 26 points and almost single-handedly rallied the Lakers back against eventual CCAC tournament champion Robert Morris Illinois at the Goodman Center this past January.
“Josh has been an outstanding teammate and leader in his two years,” Griffin said of the 6-foot-4 Dillingham. “Like most young players, he is continuing to learn how to harness his energy and passion. He makes you happy to come to the gym every day just by his presence. The jump he made from his freshman to sophomore years is impressive and, if he can continue to make similar jumps, he will go down as one of the most memorable players in our short history.”
Those are just three of the young players Griffin has on his roster for next year and beyond, and reinforcements via the recruiting trail should give Roosevelt more talent to take a greater step forward in the rigorous CCAC.