Bohannon leads YSU men in exhibition victory over Thiel
Bohannon’s 13 points,
11 rebounds highlight
exhibition at Beeghly
By Greg Gulas
Last spring, Youngstown State’s Naz Bohannon had to make a difficult choice regarding his collegiate future.
Did he want to pursue a football career with a Power-5 conference program, or opt for a Division I basketball career?
After a 106-74 exhibition win over Thiel College at Beeghly Center, first-year head coach Jerrod Calhoun is smiling from ear to ear because Bohannon chose a hardwood career.
Bohannon just missed recording a triple-double in his first collegiate game — albeit a glorified scrimmage — scoring 13 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out a game-high seven assists to pace the Penguins.
“Today was a confidence booster for us because we’ve been waiting six months to play somebody other than ourselves. We’re so happy for this moment,” Bohannon said.
“Coach Calhoun said, ‘Let’s go out and bounce,’ and that’s what we did. I love this style of play because it fits me perfectly. When coach called me back in April, I felt for sure that this was my go-to move.”
The Penguins led 57-30 at intermission, taking 47 shots to the Tomcats’ 28 and forcing 29 turnovers, including 13 steals.
They ended up with 19 steals, forcing Thiel into another 10 turnovers after the break.
“I feel like I played well, got my teammates involved so I’ll just nibble on this a little, not let it get to my head and just get ready for what’s next,” Bohannon said.
YSU led 91-48 at the 9:11 mark of the second half. The Penguins hit 100 points with six minutes left in the game on a John Salley Jr. hook in the lane.
“To be quite honest, I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone keeps asking me about my team, but it’s early. It’s basketball and I felt as if everyone won tonight,” Calhoun said. “We got to raise some money for the hurricane victims and that, to me, is awesome.
“It was also really good for us because we have 11 guys that have never played before and you knew it was going to be sloppy. The kids played hard, they played together ... but you see they had fun and enjoyed playing with one another. Freshman-wise, Naz was really good. He’s a competitor, but we knew when we got him that he was going to be special.”
Jaylen Benton also added 13 points with Cameron Morse, last year’s scoring leader, and Devin Haygood adding 10 points each.
“We tried to figure each other out, slowly coming together as a team,” Morse said. “We didn’t really know what to expect, so this was a really good way to start off our season. It’s a different style of play this year. We put up a whole bunch of shots, but that’s the type of style we want to play. This is going help us in the long run.”
The Penguins open their season Nov. 11 against Kent State in the Northeast Ohio Coaches vs. Cancer Basketball Doubleheader at the University of Akron’s James A. Rhodes Arena.