Valparaiso (3-1, 0-0 MVC)
Games No. 5-7 – Nov. 22-25
Paradise Jam – St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Sports and Fitness Center (3,000) – University of the Virgin Islands
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will spend a week in the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of the Paradise Jam multi-team event. Valpo will look to build on its 3-1 start to the season with three games against quality competition this week in St. Thomas. Valpo will face off with Grand Canyon in an opening-round matchup that is slated to tip at noon Central Time on Friday.
Last Time Out: Strong performances by junior Mileek McMillan and sophomore Javon Freeman-Liberty paved the way to Valpo’s third win in four games on Sunday afternoon as the team topped North Dakota 74-60 at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Valpo was down 11-5 six minutes into the game, but the shots started falling and the hosts had a double figure lead with 4:43 left in the first half. Freeman-Liberty stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, nine rebounds, four steals and a career-high five assists, while McMillan (16) and freshman Ben Krikke (11) both had career highs in scoring.
Following Valpo Basketball: Video – FloHoops – Danny Lee (play-by-play) – Available on a subscription basis with plans starting at $12.50; can cancel anytime.
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (analyst)
Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (57-45) is in his seventh season overall at Valpo and fourth as head coach in 2019-20. Lottich led the team to 15 victories in his third season in charge in 2018-19, the program’s second campaign in the Missouri Valley Conference. In his first year as head coach (2016-17), Lottich guided Valpo to its fifth Horizon League regular season championship in a six-year span as he led the team to 24 wins and an at-large berth into the NIT. Lottich, hired as the 22nd head coach of the Valpo men’s basketball program in April 2016, graduated from Stanford University in 2004 and New Trier High School (Illinois) in 2000.
Series Notes: Friday will mark the first all-time meeting between Valpo and Grand Canyon. Valpo has played possible second-round opponent Fordham once in program history, an 87-84 double-overtime victory on Dec. 29, 1979 as part of the KOA Classic in Billings, Mont. Valpo’s other possible second-round opponent is Nevada, another team the Brown & Gold have never played. The four possible opponents for Monday’s third and final game in the U.S. Virgin Islands (with Valpo's all-time record vs. that team listed) are Illinois State (7-8), Cincinnati (1-4), Bowling Green (1-8) and Western Kentucky (0-1).
MVC Honors: Javon Freeman-Liberty was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week on Monday, Nov. 18 after pouring in a career-high 30 points in a come-from-behind 89-76 road victory at SIUE on Tuesday, Nov. 12. He followed his career night in Edwardsville, which also featured 13 rebounds for his second career double-double, with a 21-point showing in a 74-60 victory vs. North Dakota at the Athletics-Recreation Center on Sunday, Nov. 17. In the game against the Fighting Hawks, Freeman-Liberty added nine rebounds, four steals and a career-high five assists. He enters the Paradise Jam as The Valley’s leading scorer at 22.3 points per game, an average that is tied for 26th nationally. Freeman-Liberty won MVC Newcomer of the Week once last season, but this marked his first Player of the Week honor. He became Valpo’s first MVC Player of the Week since joining the Missouri Valley Conference.
MTE Success: Valpo saw a long stretch of victories in multi-team events come to an end with an 83-71 setback against Western Kentucky in the opening game of the Myrtle Beach Invitational last year. Valpo had won 17 consecutive games as part of MTEs dating back to November 2013. Valpo is 18-2 in its last 20 games that are part of multi-team events. During that stretch, the team has won the 2014 Challenge in the Music City championship in 2014, posted a perfect record in the Beaver Showcase in 2015, claimed the MGM Grand Main Event Heavyweight Division championship belt in 2016 and shared the title with Loyola at the Savannah Invitational in 2017. Valpo’s MTE resume in recent years includes wins over Murray State (2014), Iona (2015), Oregon State (2015), Alabama (2016) and BYU (2016).
Back in Paradise: This will mark a return trip to the Paradise Jam for Valpo as the team made its way to St. Thomas for the 2008-2009 edition of the event. That marked one of the few multi-team events in recent memory where Valpo did not find success, as the team dropped games to San Diego (73-66), Iona (75-55) and La Salle (75-70, OT).
Scouting the Field
- Grand Canyon enjoyed a 20-win season that included a 10-6 record in WAC games in 2018-19.
- The Antelopes picked up a pair of WAC Tournament wins before dropping the title game. The team advanced to postseason play, falling to West Virginia in the opening round of the CBI.
- Grand Canyon is under the direction of head coach Dan Majerle, a former NBA All-Star and Olympian, who is in his seventh year leading the program. He has led the team to the 31st-best winning percentage in Division I over the past four seasons and helped the squad to five postseason berths in six years.
- The Lopes were picked to finish second in the WAC Preseason Poll with Carlos Johnson and Alessandro Lever garnering Preseason All-WAC honors.
- Possible second-round opponent Nevada went 29-5 overall and 15-3 in the Mountain West a season ago, earning an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.
- The Wolf Pack were a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament and entered the Big Dance ranked 20th
- Steve Alford is in his first season as Nevada’s head coach after spending six years at UCLA. The Indiana University Hall of Famer and former NBA player with Dallas and Golden State owns 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and four Sweet Sixteen berths during his successful coaching career.
- Possible second-round opponent Fordham enters the Paradise Jam with a perfect 3-0 record on the young season after victories over St. Francis Brooklyn, Fairleigh Dickinson and Marist.
- The Rams are looking to rebound from a 12-20 mark and 3-15 Atlantic 10 record in 2018-19. Fifth-year head coach Jeff Neubauer’s squad was picked 14th of 14 in the A-10 Preseason Poll by both coaches and media.
- Illinois State and Valpo are on opposite sides of the bracket due to the rare case of two teams that share conference affiliation playing in the same multi-team event. The Redbirds have a 2-1 record with victories over Belmont and Little Rock after going 17-16 and 9-9 in The Valley a year ago.
- Cincinnati’s roster includes former Valpo center Jay Sorolla. The Bearcats enter the event with a 2-1 mark that includes lopsided wins over Drake and Alabama A&M and an eight-point loss at No. 18 Ohio State. Cincinnati won the American Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year after accumulating 28 wins.
- Western Kentucky enters the event with a flawless 4-0 record. The Hilltoppers won 20 games last year and went 11-7 in Conference USA.
- Bowling Green is off to a 3-1 start with the only loss coming by nine points at No. 22 LSU. The Falcons went 22-12 overall and 12-6 in the Mid-American Conference last season, culminating in a MAC Tournament Championship appearance.
Four-Game Checkpoint: Javon Freeman-Liberty has already accrued 89 points and 31 rebounds over the first four games, leading the team in both categories. He’s just the third Valpo player with 80+ points and 30+ rebounds over the first four games of a season since the start of 1989-90, a span of three decades. He joins Alec Peters in 2016-17 (103 points, 34 rebounds) and Casey Schmidt in 1993-93 (89 points, 30 rebounds) on that short list.
Starting Strong: For the fifth time in the last six years, Valpo has started the season at 3-1 or better through four games. A win on Friday would allow Valpo to make it a 4-1 start, also for the fifth time in six years.
Individual Feats vs. North Dakota (Sunday, Nov. 17)
- Mileek McMillan posted his second straight career high with 16 points against the Fighting Hawks. He had previously set a career best with 13 points at SIUE on Nov. 12. The junior had played 62 games coming into this season and had one double-figure scoring output in his career, and has now hit double figures in three of this season’s four contests.
- Freshman Ben Krikke didn’t make a field goal over the first three games of his career, but he knocked down five on 11 attempts against North Dakota. He finished with 11 points, one of four Valpo players in double figures.
- For the second time this season, John Kiser equaled a career high with nine points. He has posted three nine-point efforts in his Valpo career.
- Freshman Donovan Clay made his first home start and had career highs in assists and rebounds with four of each.
- Daniel Sackey led the team in assists for the fourth straight game, enjoying his third game with six assists or more.
- Javon Freeman-Liberty has scored 19 points or more in all four games this season, including 21 against the Fighting Hawks. He also hit a career high with five assists.
20-Point Scorers: Valpo has had at least one player score more than 20 points in each of the season’s first four games as Ryan Fazekas posted a career-high 23 in the lid-lifter vs. Toledo on Nov. 5 before Daniel Sackey followed with a career watermark of his own by scoring 22 on Nov. 9 at Saint Louis and Javon Freeman-Liberty topped everyone with a career-high 30 on Nov. 12 at SIUE. Freeman-Liberty followed with 21 points in a win over North Dakota on Nov. 17. This is the first time Valpo has had at least one player eclipse 20 points in each of the first four games of the season since 2009-10, when Brandon Wood had 25 against Ball State and 30 against North Carolina, Cory Johnson had 21 against the Cardinals, Brandon McPherson had 25 against IU South Bend and Wood had 24 against Michigan State.
30-Point Outpouring: Javon Freeman-Liberty posted a career-high 30 points on Nov. 12 at SIU Edwardsville, making him the second player in the Missouri Valley Conference to reach the 30-point plateau in a game this season, joining Missouri State’s Keandre Cook (31 vs. Alabama State on Nov. 10). Through action on Nov. 12, Freeman-Liberty was one of 37 players in the nation with a 30-point performance this year. He complemented his scoring success with 13 rebounds, marking his second-career double-double and first since Jan. 29 of last season. Freeman-Liberty became the first Valpo player to score 30 points in a game since Bakari Evelyn on Nov. 26, 2017 vs. UNCW.
30&10: Javon Freeman-Liberty had 13 boards to go along with his 30 points on Nov. 12 at SIUE, putting his performance into an elite group of Valpo players who have compiled 30 or more points and 10 or more rebounds in the same game in recent years. In fact, Freeman-Liberty and Alec Peters (six times) are the only Valpo players over the last 20 seasons to enjoy 30&10 games. Before Freeman-Liberty’s game against the Cougars, the last Valpo player not named Alec Peters to achieve that feat was Raitis Grafs, who had 30 points and 13 rebounds vs. Belmont on Jan. 10, 2000.
Comeback Kids: Although Valpo would love to avoid facing double-figure first-half deficits altogether, the team showed a knack for erasing large margins through the season’s first three games. In each game, the team made a comeback after chasing by 10, and in two of three contests the Brown & Gold have came all the way back to win.
- On Nov. 12 at SIUE, Valpo was down by 10 with 13:00 minutes to play in the opening half before winning by 13. That marked the first time Valpo had come from down by double figures to win by double figures since Feb. 17, 2018, a 77-64 victory over Bradley.
- Valpo faced a 14-point deficit in the first half at Saint Louis on Nov. 9, but battled to within two by the 5:19 mark of the second half. That was as close as the team would come, however, in an 81-70 defeat.
- The most noteworthy comeback of all came on opening night, when Valpo erased a 14-point deficit to beat Toledo 79-77. It was the team’s largest comeback against a Division-I opponent since Jan. 17, 2013, rallying from 22 down to beat Detroit Mercy 89-88. It was Valpo’s biggest comeback in any game since coming from 16 down to beat Trinity Christian on Nov. 12, 2016.
- In Matt Lottich’s head coaching tenure (fourth season), there have already been 10 times Valpo has trailed by double figures and come away victorious. The team overcame four double-figure deficits in 2016-17 (Wright State, Cleveland State, BYU and Trinity Christian), two in 2017-18 (Bradley and UNCW) and two in 2018-19 (George Washington and Illinois State).
Strong Sackey Showing: Valpo guard Daniel Sackey usurped his career scoring watermark by halftime and finished the Nov. 9 game at Saint Louis with personal bests in points (22), made field goals (7), made 3-pointers (3) and made free throws (5). He became the first Valpo player to go perfect from beyond the arc with more than two attempts since Max Joseph on Jan. 20, 2018 vs. Drake. He and Joseph are the only two players to do so in the last four seasons. The last player to go unblemished from long range with more than three attempts was Alec Peters, who went 4-for-4 on Jan. 18, 2016 at Youngstown State. Sackey also dished out four assists on Saturday at SLU following his eight-helper showing in the Nov. 5 season opener vs. Toledo. This marks the first time in the sophomore’s career that he has handed out four or more assists in back-to-back games.
Freeman-Liberty Turning Heads: After hitting the game-winning shot with less than four seconds remaining in the season opener on Nov. 5 at Toledo, sophomore Javon Freeman-Liberty posted his second straight 19-point effort on Nov. 9 at Saint Louis. He scored 14 of those points in a span of 4:23, accruing 14 of Valpo’s 16 points in a second-half spurt that started with SLU up 61-52 with 9:42 remaining and ended with the margin whittled to two at 70-68 with 5:19 to play. Freeman-Liberty totaled 19 points for the game, becoming the first Missouri Valley Conference player to notch his second showing of 19 points or more on the young season. This marks the first time in the sophomore’s collegiate career that he has turned in consecutive games of 19 points or better.
A Flair for the Dramatic: Valpo added a new name to its long list of late-game heroes in the program’s storied history during the Nov. 5 season opener vs. Toledo as Javon Freeman-Liberty knocked down an off-balance 15-footer from the left elbow with 3.7 seconds left in a 79-77 victory at the Athletics-Recreation Center. That marked the 24th time since the start of the 1992-93 season Valpo has prevailed on a game-winner in the final five seconds. Although it was the first game of the regular season, it was already the second time Valpo has won in dramatic fashion this year as Daniel Sackey’s overtime buzzer-beater lifted the team past Canadian powerhouse Carleton 83-80 in overtime on its foreign tour in August.
Nonconference Highlights: Valpo’s nonconference schedule is highlighted by five opponents that qualified for the postseason last year. Here are a few of the opponents that highlight the 13-game docket that will lead into the start of Missouri Valley Conference action.
- Toledo (Nov. 5) went 25-8 last season including a 13-5 conference mark. The Rockets went to the NIT a year ago and have won back-to-back MAC West Division titles.
- Saint Louis (Nov. 9) has made four NCAA Tournament appearances in the last decade and went 23-13 in 2018-19 on its way to the Atlantic 10 Tournament title.
- Grand Canyon (Nov. 22) went 20-14 overall and 10-6 in the WAC last season, qualifying for the postseason with a CBI berth. The Lopes have reached the WAC title game and qualified for the postseason in each of their first two years as a Division-I postseason eligible team.
- Central Michigan (Dec. 8) enjoyed a 23-12 overall record and 10-8 MAC mark last season, winning two games in the MAC Tournament and qualifying for the CBI. The 23 victories tied the program’s highest total in 16 years.
- Arkansas (Dec. 21) will close out Valpo’s nonleague schedule in North Little Rock. The Razorbacks, members of the SEC, reached the second round of the NIT last season and finished 18-16 overall.
Wrapping Up Canada
- Valpo finished its four-game Canadian Foreign Tour from Aug. 10-14 with an unblemished mark after notching wins over McGill (84-78), Concordia (94-90), Carleton (83-80, OT) and the University of Quebec (81-68).
- Valpo battled from 90-80 down with 4:56 to play to top Concordia 94-90 in Montreal on Aug. 11 thanks to a game-closing 14-0 run.
- The highlight of the tour came on Aug. 13, when Winnipeg native Daniel Sackey drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to top Carleton 83-80 in overtime.
- Valpo stopped Canadian powerhouse Carleton’s 15-game winning streak against NCAA Division-I teams that included triumphs over USF, Ole Miss, Providence, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt and Alabama.
- The Sackey buzzer-beater was No. 9 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays that evening.
- Javon Freeman-Liberty scored a team-high 18.8 points per game during the Canada journey, while Donovan Clay and Mileek McMillan shared the team lead by averaging 5.3 boards apiece. Sackey averaged 15.0 points per game during the trip.
- Javon Freeman-Liberty and Ryan Fazekas both earned All-MVC Second Team honors.
- They joined Tevonn Walker (2017) as the only Valpo players to be tabbed preseason all-MVC since joining the conference.
- The last time Valpo had multiple players on the preseason all-league first or second teams in the same season was 2016, when Alec Peters and Shane Hammink were first and second team Horizon League preseason picks, respectively.
- Valpo was picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll, based on a survey of the conference’s head coaches, sports information directors and media. Missouri State was named the preseason favorite.
Wrapping Up 2018-2019
- Valpo moved up two spots in the standings from Year 1 to Year 2 in the Missouri Valley Conference while also earning its first Arch Madness victory by beating Indiana State 77-55 in the opening round of the MVC Tournament.
- Valpo allowed 66.3 points per game, ranking 48th of 351 nationally in scoring defense.
- The team finished with 15 victories for the second straight season including nonconference triumphs over UNLV and George Washington. Valpo started 4-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play, but finished the year 15-18 overall and 7-11 in league action.
New Year, New Look
- Valpo has five returning letter winners after seven letter winners departed following the 2018-19 campaign.
- Valpo has 40.1 percent of its scoring and 35.7 percent of its rebounding back from last season.
- The five returning letter winners are Valpo’s fewest since the 2013-14 campaign, when Jordan Coleman, LaVonte Dority, Bobby Capobianco and Vashil Fernandez were the only players back from the previous season.
- Associate head coach Luke Gore is in his 18th year on staff and has served under four different head coaches. The Valpo veteran has helped the team to seven postseason berths in the last nine years and was on staff for the three winningest seasons in program history. He oversees the team’s post players.
- Assistant coach Rob Holloway is back for his second season after spending the previous two years on staff at Eastern Illinois, his alma mater.
- Assistant coach Matt Bowen returned to Valpo’s staff in 2018-19 after previously spending four seasons with the Brown & Gold from 2002-2006. He was the head coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth from 2012-2018.
- Director of Basketball Operations Jason Karys is in his first season in that capacity, but has been around the program in a variety of roles, spending two years as a graduate assistant, one as a walk-on player and three as a manager.
- Strength & Conditioning Coach Derek Bol is in his eighth season. He is a 2010 graduate of Iowa State.
- Graduate Assistant Peter Funk has taken that role after four years as an undergraduate manager.
- Athletic trainer Ken DeAngelis is in his first season full-time at Valpo after previously earning his master’s degree from the University in 2012 while spending two years as a graduate assistant athletic trainer.
Tradition of Excellence
- Valpo has 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and four NIT berths in the program’s proud history, with the team’s postseason success highlighted by a Sweet Sixteen run in 1998.
- The program has produced nine All-Americans, won 18 regular season conference championships and 10 conference tournament crowns.
- Valpo also boasts eight NBA players, 10 conference players of the year and 20 20-win seasons.
- Nine of the team’s NCAA appearances have come since 1996.
- Valpo has qualified for the postseason seven times in the last nine years, but enters 2019-20 seeking its first postseason tournament berth since playing in the NIT to conclude the 2016-17 season.
- Valpo has developed a myriad of professional basketball players over the last quarter century, most notably a pair of NBA players in the last three years.
- Ryan Broekhoff (class of 2013) signed a contract with the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2018 after spending five seasons playing internationally in Russia and Turkey.
- Broekhoff tallied a season-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor (3-5 3PT) in 22 minutes of action Jan. 5 in a 106-100 loss against Philadelphia. Broekhoff played in 42 games during the 2018-19 season.
- Alec Peters (class of 2017) was the 54th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns.
- Peters appeared in 20 games for the Suns in 2017-18, highlighted by a 36-point performance in the season finale against Dallas - a new single-game high by a Valpo alum in the NBA.
- Peters won a championship with CSKA Moscow in Russia in 2018-19. He signed a one-year contract with Anadolu Efes in Turkish BSL on July 9, 2019.
- 2018 Valpo graduate Tevonn Walker plays for Hamburg in German BBL. Walker’s classmate Max Joseph signed a contract with Nassjo Basket in Sweden following his time at Valpo.
- 2017 product Jubril Adekoya plays for Carramimbre CBC Valladolid in Spanish LEB Gold.
- Cory Johnson (2011) signed with Penarol in Argentina.
- Keith Carter, who rounded out his Valpo career in 2016, played in the 2019 NBA Summer League with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
- Valpo has now produced 50 pro basketball players over the last 25 years.
#0 Javon Freeman-Liberty, So. (Chicago, Ill.)
- Stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, nine rebounds, four steals and a career-high five assists on Nov. 17 vs. North Dakota.
- Had a career-high 30 points while also pulling down 13 rebounds in a Nov. 12 win at SIUE. He became the second Valpo player in the last 20 seasons with a 30&10 game, joining Alec Peters (six times).
- Scored 14 points in a span of 4 minutes, 23 seconds on Nov. 9 at SLU and finished the game with 19, marking the first sequence of back-to-back games with 19 points or more in his career.
- Started the year with a 19-point, five-rebound effort in a 79-77 victory over Toledo on Nov. 5. That culminated with an off-balance 15 footer with 3.7 seconds left that gave Valpo the lead and the win.
- Member of the 2018-19 MVC All-Freshman Team, 2018-19 MVC All-Defensive Team and 2019-20 MVC Preseason Second Team.
- Finished the 2018-19 season with 60 steals, the third most in single-season program history behind only Lubos Barton in 2001-02 and Scott Anselm in 1988-89.
- Accumulated 364 points in 2018-19, surpassing Bryce Drew’s freshman campaign for the fourth-most by a freshman in program history.
- Pulled down 142 rebounds in 2018-19, the fifth-most by a freshman in the history of the program.
- Joined Lubos Barton as one of just two rookies in program history with top five freshman marks in scoring, rebounding and steals.
- Became the first Valpo freshman to lead a conference in one of the five major statistical categories and the first Valpo player since at least 1982 to pace a conference in steals.
#1 Sigurd Lorange, Fr. (Trondheim, Norway)
- Made his collegiate debut on Nov. 9 at Saint Louis, then scored his first collegiate basket on Nov. 12 at SIUE, a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half.
- Before coming to Valpo, played for Gimle Basketball in the BLNO, Norway’s top professional basketball league.
- Helped lead Gimle to a league runner-up finish, averaging nearly 20 points and better than four assists.
- Averaged 17.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for Norway at the U18s in 2018.
#2 Zion Morgan, R-Jr. (Chicago, Ill.)
- Previously played at UNLV (2016-17) and Wabash Valley College (2017-18 & 2018-19), leading the Warriors to a 25-8 record last season.
- Was teammates with Valpo’s Nick Robinson at Kenwood Academy in Chicago.
- Uncle Mardy Gilyard was a wide receiver at Cincinnati and was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
#3 Brock Pappas, So. (Valparaiso, Ind.)
- Nursing major who joined the program as a walk-on in 2018-19.
- Is a Valparaiso, Ind. native and a graduate of nearby Washington Township.
- Mother (Lisa) has worked on Valpo’s campus for 32 years, currently serving as an administrative assistant in the Department of Education. Brother (Bryce) and father (Steve) are both Valpo graduates, and his brother was named after Bryce Drew.
#4 Daniel Sackey, So. (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
- Led the team in assists for the fourth straight game on Nov. 17 vs. North Dakota, enjoying his third game with six assists or more.
- Dished out a career-high eight assists in the regular-season opener on Nov. 5 vs. Toledo.
- Had usurped his career scoring watermark by halftime and finished the Nov. 9 game at Saint Louis with personal bests in points (22), made field goals (7), made 3-pointers (3) and made free throws (5), becoming the first player to go perfect from beyond the arc with three or more attempts since Max Joseph on Jan. 20, 2018, the only other player to do so in the last four seasons.
- Made a buzzer-beater to upstage Canadian powerhouse Carleton in overtime in August, making an appearance on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays at No. 9 that evening.
- Has been a drummer since elementary school. The basement of his family’s home in Canada includes a small recording studio. He has a deep passion for music.
- Became just the sixth Manitoban to earn a scholarship in Division-I men’s basketball since the NCAA reorganized into its current competitive format in 1973.
#5 Donovan Clay, Fr. (Alton, Ill.)
- Made his first home start and had career highs in assists and rebounds with four of each on Nov. 17 vs. North Dakota.
- Made his first career start in a game near his hometown of Alton, Ill. on Nov. 12 at SIUE, scoring five points and grabbing three boards.
- Knocked down a 3-pointer and collected three rebounds on Nov. 9 at Saint Louis, a game played near his hometown of Alton, Ill.
- Made his collegiate debut and scored his first collegiate basket on Nov. 5 vs. Toledo
- After senior year of high school: 4A First Team All-State, member of All-Metro First Team, honorable mention Associate Press All-State, Riverbend Boys Basketball Player of the Year, the Telegraph Large Schools Boys Basketball Player of the Year, named the “biggest sleeper” in the state of Illinois by the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Had a late growth spurt in high school, going from 6-foot-3 as a junior to 6-7 as a senior.
- Father Dexter, who is his role model, played college basketball at Rend Lake Junior College.
#10 Eron Gordon, R-Jr. (Indianapolis, Ind.)
- Made his Valpo debut on Nov. 5 vs. Toledo, seeing six minutes of action.
- Joined the program in 2018-19 but sat out due to transfer rules. Appeared in 48 games over his two years at Seton Hall.
- Oldest brother Eric was the seventh pick of the 2008 NBA Draft and has played 11 seasons in the NBA. Father Eric is one of the Top 20 all-time scorers at Liberty. Brother Evan is playing in the CBA after scoring over 1,300 points at the Division-I level at Liberty, Arizona State and Indiana.
- Adds to Valpo’s recent history of NBA connections after Derrik Smits, Shane Hammink and Chandler Levingston Simon all had fathers who played in the NBA. Javon Freeman-Liberty’s uncle played in the NBA, while Valpo women’s basketball player Ella Ellenson is the brother of Henry.
#11 Emil Freese-Vilien, Fr. (Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Made his collegiate debut on his birthday in the Nov. 5 game vs. Toledo by contributing four points, three rebounds and two assists.
- Started playing basketball in November 2014 after playing badminton during his younger years.
- Played for Denmark at both the U16 and U18 FIBA Euro Championships in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
- Shortly before coming to Valpo, played for Vaerlose in the Danish Basketligaen, the highest professional league in Denmark.
#15 Luke Morrill, Fr. (Lombard, Ill.)
- Joined the program as a walk-on for the 2019-20 season.
- Graduate of Montini Catholic – also the alma mater of a pair of Valpo women’s basketball players, Ilysse Pitts and Zoe MacKay Zacker.
- Played his prep basketball under the late Daryl Thomas.
#22 Mileek McMillan, Jr. (Merrillville, Ind.)
- Set a career high for the second straight game with 16 points vs. North Dakota on Nov. 17, his third double-figure output of the season and the fourth of his career.
- Posted a career-high 13 points on Nov. 12 at SIUE.
- Saw action in 30 games as a sophomore after appearing in all 32 games as a freshman.
- Local to Northwest Indiana after playing his prep basketball for nearby Merrillville High School.
- Helped his Merrillville Pirates finish with a 22-2 record his junior year of high school.
#23 Ben Krikke, Fr. (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
- Didn’t make a field goal over the first three games of his career, but he knocked down five on 11 attempts against North Dakota on Nov. 17. He finished with 11 points, one of four Valpo players in double figures.
- Made his collegiate debut in the Nov. 5 season opener vs. Toledo.
- Competed for Team Canada at the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup in Argentina, averaging 9.9 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game while helping Canada to a fourth-place finish.
- Credits his father’s Michael Jordan DVD set for helping him hone his skills. DVDs included Jordan’s greatest games, plays and Top 10 dunks.
- Was the MVP of the Alberta Basketball All-Star Showcase, scoring 37 points.
#25 Nick Robinson, R-Jr. (Chicago, Ill)
- Had a personal-best 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and went 8-for-8 at the free-throw line on Nov. 12 at SIUE.
- Had nine points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in his Valpo debut, a victory over Toledo in the Nov. 5 season opener.
- Joined the program as a transfer in 2018-19 and sat out due to transfer rules after playing two seasons at Saint Joseph’s and appearing in 62 games, starting 30 times.
- High school teammate of Valpo’s Zion Morgan at Kenwood.
- Enjoys taking photos of nature in his spare time.
#33 John Kiser, Sr. (Noblesville, Ind.)
- Equaled a career high with nine points for the second time this season on Nov. 17 vs. North Dakota. He has three nine-point efforts in his Valpo career.
- Had eight points, seven rebounds and a career-high five assists on Nov. 12 in a win at SIUE. That marked his third straight game with seven or more rebounds.
- Was a non-scholarship walk-on in 2016-17 as a freshman, but earned a scholarship following that season.
- Is the program’s longest-tenured player as the only member of the 2016-17 team still active at Valpo.
- The mechanical engineering major earned 2017-18 MVC Scholar-Athlete honorable mention.
#35 Ryan Fazekas, R-Sr. (Chesterton, Ind.)
- Was injured on Nov. 9 at Saint Louis and is out indefinitely.
- Started the season by leading the team with a career-high 23 points on Nov. 5 vs. Toledo.
- Graduated from nearby Marquette Catholic High School (Michigan City, Ind.) before beginning his collegiate career with two seasons at Providence.
- Sat out the 2017-18 season at Valpo and is now in his second season playing for the team. Member of this year’s Second Team Preseason All-MVC squad.
- Enters the season ranked second among active Valley players in career 3-point field goal percentage (minimum 30 attempts) at .432, behind only Loyola’s Cooper Kaifes.