Emory, Va. - The 2015-16 Emory & Henry College Men's Basketball Team had their best season in over a decade under third-year coach David Willson. The Wasps have improved each year under Willson's tutelage, but this year, the team improved greatly. After being selected ninth in the preseason poll, Willson led his team to a fifth-place finish in the regular season. The Wasps picked up their first winning season since 2006-07 and doubled their amount of conference wins from last year. The team's 16 victories were the most since 2003-04.
E&H hosted Shenandoah in the First Round of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Tournament. With a 101-54 win over the Hornets, the Wasps made history by setting a new record for margin of victory in the ODAC Tournament. The Wasps then played Guilford in the quarterfinals of the ODAC Tournament, taking out the fourth-seeded Quakers by double digits to move onto the semifinals. It was the first time since the 1993-94 season that E&H notched two postseason victories. In that year, the Wasps reached the ODAC Tournament Championship game.
The historic success for the men's basketball team was thanks in part to the mix of talented freshmen and experienced upperclassmen. The Wasps saw two seniors in Kevin Anzenberger and Trevor Gilliam play their final games. The duo provided leadership for the relatively young team while serving as captains. Anzenberger finished with 509 points, 211 rebounds, and 85 assists while also earning a place on the NABC's Honor Court and ODAC All-Academic Team. Gilliam completed his career shooting 38.2% from the field and 36.4% from three. Coach Willson stated, "I could not be more proud or appreciative of Kevin's and Trevor's contributions to Emory & Henry Basketball. These two seniors have stayed committed to their teammates, our program, and the school when it was not always easy to do so. Their leadership through some challenging times over the past few years has been vital to the steps we have taken towards competing for ODAC championships at Emory & Henry."
Junior guard Myles Turner was selected to an All-ODAC Team for the second year in a row. After being selected to the third team in 2014-15, Turner upped his game and was honored as a second-teamer this year. Turner finished second on the team with 11.3 points per game, and also averaged 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Turner's best game came in an 81-73 victory at Guilford in mid-February. The Richmond native scored a season-high 26 points, hitting six-of-eight three pointers, eclipsing the 1,000-point scoring mark as well. His 1,066 career points put him 13th on the all-time list with a full year still to play.
Sophomore John Shelor led the team in scoring this year, averaging 11.4 points per game. He shot a blazing 46.9% from beyond the arc and 82.9% from the free throw line, both of which led the team. His 67 three-pointers made were the third-most in the ODAC. Juniors Ryan Gravley and Brandon Self were staples in the Wasps' starting lineup all season long. Gravley averaged 10.1 points and led the team in assists at 3.9 a game. He also hit 35.8% of his three-point shots. Self was a defensive stopper all season long for the Wasps, finishing third in the ODAC in blocks and drew the most charges on the team. The big man averaged 5.1 points and 6.3 rebounds. The other starter for most of the year was Aaron Ferguson. Ferguson started 23 of 28 games as a rookie and averaged 9.6 points and 6.3 rebounds, accumulating four double-doubles on the year.
One of the greatest strengths of this year's team was consistent production off of the bench. The Wasps' depth gave them offensive balance and enabled them to wear down their opponents defensively. The development of 6'7 sophomore power forward Chase Branscomb was a spark for the Wasps. Branscomb nearly doubled his production from the previous season by averaging 9.2 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game. Freshmen Clif Conley and Alic Wynn made major contributions for the squad. Conley, one of the conference's best three-point shooters at 41%, averaged eight points, two rebounds, and 1.4 assists a game in his first season in blue and gold. Wynn played in all 28 games and averaged 5.2 points per contest. His 5.4 rebounds cemented him as a top-20 rebounder in the ODAC. Sophomore Johnny McLean played in 21 games as a reserve guard and tallied 35 points, including a career-high 11 in a win over Montreat. Sophomore Noah Walker provided valuable minutes off the bench as well despite dealing with multiple injuries throughout the year. It was hard to find a missed shot from him, as he hit 75% of his field goals. Jarris Hendricks, Andrew Davis, and Zach Lawson all saw action and showed great progress throughout the year.
Willson continues to express excitement about the future of Emory & Henry Men's Basketball. "Our players are committed to doing things right on and off the court," commented Willson, whose team once again achieved over a 3.0 team GPA last semester. "They set their goals high and strive to reach them. I am confident that this mentality will result in a great off-season for our team and new heights for 2016-17."
Points – John Shelor – 11.4
Rebounds –Aaron Fergsuson – 6.3
Assists – Ryan Gravley – 3.9
Blocks – Brandon Self – 1.1
Steals – Myles Turner – 1.3
FG% - Noah Walker – 75%
3FG% - John Shelor – 46.9%
FT% - John Shelor – 82.9%
-photos courtesy of Caleb Johnston, E&H'15