Freshmen hold their own weight during rough season

Darren Miles

The traditional role of the freshman in college sports is one relegated to carrying bags, occupying a red shirt and racking up serious bench time. This has not been the case this year as the Leatherneck basketball team has depended upon three true freshmen.Shooting forward J.D. Summers has started in seven of 11 games so far this season and has taken up where his high school career left off. He is yet another WIU athlete to develop at Quincy High School where he was twice named to the All-Western Big Six team. He also led QHS with 21.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game as a senior.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound Summers is averaging 20 minutes per game and gets a lot done in that short period of time, especially with his .354 shooting percentage from the field. He is a threat from long range, shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc and has converted at the free-throw line, hitting 17-of-24. All of these stats translate into strong play; Summers scores 7.6 points per game and pulls in 4.8 rebounds.

Fellow forward Karl Peterson is another freshman making a big impact on this year’s basketball squad. Another big man at 6 feet, 9 inches and 230 pounds, he has started in all 12 games, mostly at the center position and has logged in almost 27 minutes per game. And like Summers, he was also a standout in high school.

He hails from Davenport, Iowa, where he played at Central High School. He was named the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association 4A Player of the Year as a senior and holds the school record for points in a game with 38. He has continued that hot shooting at WIU, hitting .423 from the field. He leads the team with 5.4 rebounds per game while also scoring 6.4 points.

The final freshman, Ryan Shriver, has seen limited playing time but has made the most of his opportunities, which is apparent in his 15 point performance in the first regular-season game against Montana State University. Resembling Summers and Peterson, he also adds size to the Leathernecks at 6 feet 8 inches and 210 pounds. He has one start but has played in 10 games.

The Salina, Kan., native played ball at South High School where he averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds per game as a senior while leading his team through an undefeated league season. At WIU he has been playing 10 minutes per game where he shoots .452 percent. In this limited time he averages 1.7 rebounds and 3.5 points per game.

All of this young talent has helped to patch in some of the holes created by the loss of big men from the Leatherneck team’s last season. Also, this amount of playing time so early on in their careers bodes well for WIU’s basketball future.