THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Cal Lutheran men's basketball team returns four of five starters from a year ago, welcomes 10 new student-athletes and looks to compete with some of the toughest schools in the nation in 2018-19.
"What I have enjoyed so far is working with our returners and our freshmen class," said head coach Tim Fusina. "It is great to work with guys who want to be here and are completely committed to our program. Each of them understands what is expected of them both on and off the court. Any time you go through the roster overhaul and rebuild that we are currently going through, you have to start with high character people and that is the type of roster we have this year."
Back for their senior year is Austin Cole, Kyle Ferreira and Michael Wadsworth. Cole and Ferreira were both named to the All-SCIAC Second Team last year. Ferreira led the team with 18.2 points per game and 7.0 rebounds. Cole averaged 17.3 points per game and shot 41.7-percent from the field, 40-percent from the three-point arc and 85.2-percent from the free throw line.
The junior class includes Palmer Chaplin, Brandon Danziger and transfer Caleb Thomas (Mo City, Texas). Chaplin joins Cole as the captains of the Kingsmen in 2018-19. Last year, Chaplin hit the game-winner in a 74-73 win at UC Santa Cruz. Thomas is a 6-foot-7 power forward from Greys Harbor College.
"Palmer has been our most improved returner," said Fusina. "He was here all summer working on his game and in the weight room. He has dedicated himself to our program and getting better every day. Austin and Palmer have been leaders for us. Austin has improved his defensive play and has added an inside game.
"Connor is a lot more assertive on both ends, and can help us with screens and then getting open for outside shots. Kyle is one of the most talented offensive players I've been around. Some of the best footwork I've seen at this level. Jarrett has guarded the ball very well during practice."
The upperclassmen are joined by nine freshmen. The class is made up of Tyler Brabant (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Tre'an Harrill (Santa Clarita, Calif.), Seth Henry (San Clemente, Calif.), Charlie Lee (Tustin, Calif.), Brooks Mallory (Santa Ana, Calif.), Max Modica (Houston, Texas), Nick Waterstraat (Puyallup. Calif.), Lamin Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Jared Wulbrun (Standford, Calif.).
"We have a lot of newcomers and they have all bought into how we do things here," said Fusina. "Jared has the ability to make shots and guard on the perimeter. He's a tough player who isn't afraid to go after loose balls, take charges or block out bigger opponents. Tyler and Caleb are helping us in the post by being able to both defend and rebound as well as screen and score inside.
"Max has done a good job handling the ball. Charlie has been able to adapt to the college game pretty quickly. It's really hard to pick out one guy who has stood out above anyone else. I am pleased with our work ethic, energy and understanding at this point of the year."
The Kingsmen will be tested early and often with arguably one of the toughest schedules in the nation. Cal Lutheran will be on the road for the beginning of the season and then come home for a key stretch before starting SCIAC play.
"I feel the SCIAC is very underrated," said Fusina "When you have a team that has gone up to the Northwest in back to back years and got a win in the NCAA Tournament, it proves that the SCIAC can compete on the national level. There are plenty of good players and good coaches in this league where it does not allow for off nights.
"If your team is not focused and ready to play on a given night, you're going to get beat. It doesn't matter who it is against. Our goal is to compete at the top of the SCIAC throughout the year and make the conference tournament. We have the capability to do that, but it will come down to how focused we are on a nightly basis and if we can play hard each night."
The Kingsmen begin the 2018-19 campaign tonight. Cal Lutheran is on the road and will take on Division I opponent, UC Santa Barbara, at 7 p.m. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
2018-19 Roster: Kingsmen Basketball
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Release byRyan Jorgenson, Sports Information Director