Marist head coach Mike Maker has a big challenge on his hands this season.
“How do you replace Chavaughn Lewis? The answer is you don’t,” Maker said. “You have to do it collectively.”
When Chavaughn Lewis graduated the program at the end of the season, he left a void that cannot be filled by any one Red Fox. He owns the school’s all-time scoring record at 2,119 points and is pursuing his basketball future overseas in Lithuania.
“I’m looking for those handful of guys to make contributions in a more balanced way to offset Chavaughn’s specialty of just scoring in abundance,” Maker said. “He’d score in any system, he’s a special talent and it’s just impossible to replace someone of Chavaughn’s ability.”
The first key to replacing some of Lewis’ production will rest on a healthy season from junior Khallid Hart, who instantly becomes the returning leading scorer. Maker worked hard to feature Hart beside Lewis last season. The 6’2″ point guard opened the season with a career-high 33 points and scored 16 points in his second contest before missing 13 games with a left foot injury.
“There’s no question we will highlight him this year, without a doubt,” Maker said. “A healthy Khallid Hart will make for a happier coach.”
Maker said he saw Hart over the summer and the junior point guard looks as healthy has he has been since he won MAAC Rookie of the Year in 2014. The three starting spots likely locked up at this point will be Hart, along with seniors Phil Lawrence and Eric Troug in the front court.
“I think both Eric and Phil had good years,” Maker said. “We’re hoping those two seniors can have their best years they’ve had yet and be a bridge to the future as well.”
After the upperclassmen, there will be plenty of ways for the younger players to break into the lineup. Sophomores K.J. Lee and Connor McClenaghan showed signs in their first season and will have a chance for expanded playing time. Maker welcomes in his first recruiting class of five freshmen and expects Brian Parker, whose classmates Dererk Pardon and Carlton Bragg will play at Northwestern and Kansas, respectively. Parker led his team in steals in his senior year alongside the two power conference commits and is expected to get an opportunity to have an impact at the shooting guard position.
“I’m very excited about Brian, I just don’t like to talk about freshmen before they scored a basket,” Maker said. “Brian has played at a high level and is physically ready to play and will be given an opportunity, just because of the departure of T.J. Curry in the back court.”
However, expect the second year head coach of the Red Foxes to try any mix of players as he tries to figure out how to replace the most irreplaceable player in school history.
“That wing position, I’m all ears to who is going to replace Chavaughn Lewis,” Maker said. “It’s going to be by committee because I don’t know anybody that can replace those 2,000 points, his competitive spirit and all that. He’ll be missed.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.