Getting to Know Valpo – Part 3
(St. Louis, MO) – What kind of team will Valparaiso put on the Missouri Valley Conference basketball facilities this season? They graduated one of the best Horizon League players of the past decade in Alec Peters and their second leading scorer in Shane Hammink. So what can Valley fans expect to see this year?
Head coach Matt Lottich knows the Crusaders have to adjust to the graduation of the highly productive Peters, but he also knows he has some solid players ready to step into more prominent roles. The second-year head coach says, his returning players are anxious to become ‘go to players’ in northern Indiana.
Coming off a 24 win season in his first year as the Valpo head coach, Lottich is high on a pair of players from Canada. Tevonn Walker and Max Joseph played together at Vanier College in Quebec and Lottich expects them to be leaders on this year’s squad.
Lottich played at Stanford and then played professionally internationally, and Valparaiso has a long tradition of recruiting foreign players. Those two things combine to help Lottich not only recruit, but understand the foreign players and what they face. He told us he even played for recruit Marten Linssen’s (Germany) coach.
VerbalCommits.com has graded the Valpo incoming recruits as the best in the MVC. Transfers Bakari Evelyn (Nebraska) and Joe Burton (Oklahoma State) have each been rated as three-star (or better) recruits. They head a class that includes Linssen, Parker Hazen (Columbia City, IN) and fast rising Mileek McMillan.
Lottich says the incomers bring size and athleticism and says Evelyn in particular is a highly talented player.
McMillan is a player that has played virtually every position during his prep career, because the has grown over six inches during his high school career. Lottich believes more growth in front of the 6’8 Merrillville, Indiana native.
North Idaho College transfer Markus Golder is a spectacular free throw shooter and led the Cardinals in scoring (18.9 points per game) and the 6’6 swing man grabbed over six rebounds per game for a team that finished 25-5. Lottich told valpoathletics.com that Golder is a unique blend of talents.
“On the court, Markus brings a unique athletic ability combined with a nice outside shooting touch,” said Lottich. “What we noticed very quickly with Markus is that he has a strong desire to continue to improve and is not afraid to work hard. We can’t wait to get Markus on campus and start coaching him. The Valpo basketball faithful will enjoy watching Markus compete.”
Of the 2017-18 recruiting class only Evelyn stands shorter than 6’6. The blend of three freshmen and three transfers bring size and experience.
Valparaiso is not showing up in the Missouri Valley with a need to improve their talent level to compete, they are ready to be an upper echelon team from day one.
Editor: Title photo is of Bakari Evelyn courtesy of valpoathletics.com.