Three New Players Prepare to Lead the Team
In college athletics, juniors and seniors typically play the most and are asked to set a good example for the younger athletes. However, sometimes a freshman breaks through and makes an immediate impact on the team.
In the case of the 2015-2016 men’s basketball team, three freshmen were able to make significant contributions at the beginning of their college careers.
Levan Shawn Alston, Jr., Trey Lowe and Ernest Aflakpui made their mark on Temple’s court at a young age. While all three said the transition from high school to college athletics brought about certain difficulties, they were all able to enroll in the program over the summer and make the process a bit easier.
“Being here over the summer was helpful,” Alston Jr. said, guard and forward for the team. “It helped me balance athletics with classes, so I was ready by August.”
While Alston Jr. believes the summer helped him adapt to his new, more hectic schedule, Lowe says he was able to focus on improving his skills as a basketball player.
“Over the summer, I was able to play against bigger, stronger and faster athletes, which helped me prepare for the college level,” Lowe said.
Aflakpui, affectionately known as “Big Ern,” had the misfortune of coming into the season with an injury. The center was able to work his way into the lineup after recovering. He said that if the coaches see players are putting in the effort, they will get to play no matter what year they are.
“Before the season started, I was just focused on getting healthy and being able to practice,” Aflakpui said. “Once I was cleared to participate, I began to work hard. If Coach Dunphy sees that you are working hard enough, he’ll give you minutes.”
Head Coach Fran Dunphy said he couldn’t be more pleased with how they have handled themselves during the season.
“All three have done a terrific job,” Dunphy said. “They have no fear and showed that they want to participate and make contributions. They’ve exceeded my expectations.”
Being able to get consistent playing time as freshmen has certainly helped the three in the short term, and according to them, will pay off in the future.
“This year has given me a lot of insight on how basketball games can go, so by the time I’m an upperclassman I’ll have learned what it takes to win the close games,” Alston Jr. said.
“It’s a great experience to learn from some of the older guys, so when it’s my turn I can teach the young guys the ropes,” Lowe added.
With a chance to be on the team for possibly five years, Dunphy knows this trio has the potential to become even better players over the course of their careers.
“The three of them are huge to our future, and I think they’ll be terrific college basketball players,” Dunphy said.
Written by Joseph Williams
Photographed by Jademan Baker