As the 2016-17 basketball season comes to an end, three seniors will play their final regular season game in Ariel Arena tomorrow afternoon.
Seniors Josh Ashwill, Pat Lucas and Deontae Cole are thankful for the memories and relationships they built during their time in the Cougar uniform.
“It has been life changing,” said Lucas. “I have built so many relationships, a lot of brothers that I will have forever.”
Ashwill and Cole agreed. “It’s a family, a band of brothers. Its my home away from home,” said Cole.
Head Coach Jared Ronai is proud of his three seniors and the “legacy they will leave.”
“I hope all three can take away a great experience that will be with them for a lifetime,” Ronai said. “I hope they remember the process we tried to instill in them, to relentlessly pursue getting a little bit better each and every day.”
Ashwill and Lucas spent four years in the men’s basketball program, three under the leadership of Ronai.
“Being part of a program and teams where Jesus Christ is at the center of what we do and why we play the game of basketball has been so meaningful to me,” said Ashwill.
Ronai credits the two seniors for their in influence and leadership in establishing the RULECougar culture within the men’s basketball program.
“I can’t speak enough on their character and their team first mindset,” Ronai said. “I will miss them both very much and could not be more proud of the men they have grown into in their time here at MVNU.”
Lucas, a 6’8” center, has been a defensive anchor for the Cougars. His height and power under the basket has been a great addition to the Cougar lineup.
Lucas started 10 games as a freshman and earned minutes in every game since his sophomore year at MVNU and is “blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of such a good program,” he said.
Ashwill ends his career ranked 13th in NAIA Division II total assists and 16th for assists per game. The senior guard scored his 1,000th career point against Grace College on Jan. 25, 2017. Ashwill earned Crossroads League player of the week on Feb. 6 after his career high 27-points against Taylor University.
Cole transferred to MVNU last semester from Northern Kentucky University where he played basketball for three years.
As a senior at MVNU Cole “made an immediate impact for us on and off the floor,” Ronai said. “His spirit and kindness has made him a great teammate and a perfect fit within our culture.”
The senior transfer has played in every game at MVNU, coming off the bench and averaging 10.5 points per game. Cole scored his career high as a Cougar with 20-points against Spring Arbor.
Cole credits his teammates, coaches and professors for making this the “best year of school that anyone can ask for.”
Cole graduates in December with a degree in communication studies. He hopes to one day work in sports broadcasting.
Lucas will earn his degree in sports management with plans to get his Master’s while gaining experience in his field.
Ashwill, a finance major, plans to become a financial adviser for a faith-based financial services firm after graduation.
Looking back, the three seniors encourage their teammates and fellow MVNU students to cherish the time they have left and the friendships they have built.
“Every practice, every conditioning, every game and every relationship that you have built will be over before you know it and you will remember these four years as some of the best for the rest of your life,” said Ashwill.
Ashwill, Lucas and Cole wrap up their regular season collegiate careers against Huntington University tomorrow at 3 p.m. The game will follow the Lady Cougars 1 p.m. matchup against the Foresters.