Valparaiso (3-9, 0-3 MVC)
at Illinois State (5-8, 2-5 MVC)
Game No. 13 – Saturday, Jan. 23 – 5 p.m. CT
Game No. 14 – Sunday, Jan. 24 – 5 p.m. CT
Redbird Arena (10,500) – Normal, Ill.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will look to get back on track this weekend as Valpo makes its way to Illinois State for a back-to-back against the Redbirds. These games were initially scheduled to occur on Jan. 2-3 but were postponed and later rescheduled for this weekend. Valpo will look to snap a five-game skid and grab its first road victory of the season on Saturday.
Last Time Out: Eron Gordon posted a season-high 14 points to lead the team in scoring for the third straight game, but Valpo went just 3-of-20 from beyond the arc in a 75-39 loss to visiting Loyola on Wednesday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Ben Krikke scored 10 of his 12 points after halftime to join Gordon in double figures.
Following Valpo Basketball: Television/Streaming – Marquee Sports Network & ESPN3 – Kurt Pegler (play-by-play), Bob Morris (analyst – Saturday only) and Kelly Burke (analyst – Sunday only)
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (analyst)
Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball
Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (76-69) is in his eighth season overall at Valpo and fifth as head coach in 2020-21. Just two years removed from finishing in last place and being knocked out in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as a first-year Valley member, Lottich’s team did more than hold its own in 2019-2020, ascending into a tie for sixth in the league standings before finishing as the conference tournament runner-up. Valpo became the first team in the history of Arch Madness to reach the title game after playing in the opening round. 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.
A Fountain of Youth
- Valpo has depended upon freshmen and sophomores to account for 544 of the team’s 805 points this season, 67.6 percent of the scoring.
- With senior Nick Robinson opting out for the remainder of the season, a young team got even younger. Five of the team’s top six scorers among active players are freshmen or sophomores. When you take out Robinson’s points, 74.3 percent of Valpo’s scoring has come from freshmen or sophomores.
- For comparison, seven of Drake’s top eight scorers are juniors or seniors and Loyola’s top three scorers are seniors. Those two teams enter this weekend at No. 1 and No. 2 in the MVC standings in a year where the advantage of experience has been magnified due to COVID-19 related disruptions to practice time.
Gordon Leading the Way
- Despite the aforementioned youth, Valpo has been led in scoring by senior Eron Gordon in each of the last three games.
- Gordon has paced the team in points in three straight contests after not doing so in any of his first 44 career games at Valpo.
- Gordon has also led the team (outright or tied) in rebounding in four straight games. He has been the team leader on the glass five times this year after not doing so at all last season.
- Gordon has made 11 free throws over the last two games (five at DePaul, career-high six vs. Loyola), more than he had made in the first 10 games of the season combined (10).
- Gordon has scored in double figures in three straight games, including a season-high 14 on Jan. 20 vs. Loyola. That marked his highest single-game scoring output since going off for a career-high 20 on Dec. 18, 2019 at High Point.
Attempting to Get Back on Track
- After dealing with disruptions to practice time and competition, Valpo’s young team will look to get back on track by snapping a five-game losing streak on Saturday. Valpo’s hasn’t dropped six straight since 2006-07 (eight straight), something it intends to keep that way with a win on Saturday.
- Being held under 40 points is a rarity for Valpo’s program, as Wednesday marked the first time Valpo was held under 40 points since the 2000 NCAA Tournament vs. Michigan State in Auburn Hills, Mich. (L 65-38).
- However, it’s worth noting that the 36-point win wasn’t even Loyola’s most lopsided victory this week. The Ramblers beat MVC preseason favorite UNI by 42 (88-46) on Sunday at Gentile Arena.
- Valpo is returning to the site of its most recent road victory, which came over the Redbirds on Feb. 15 of last season. They’ve dropped eight straight road games since that triumph.
Valpo in Road Conference Openers
- Valpo will finally play its first road game of the MVC slate on Saturday. The program has opened the conference schedule with three consecutive home games for the first time since 2002-03, current Baylor head coach Scott Drew’s lone season as Valpo head coach.
- Valpo will look to prevail in its first conference road game for the third straight season (W 81-79 in OT at Evansville on Jan. 4, 2020; W 82-66 at Missouri State on Jan. 5, 2019). Valpo has won its first league road game in three of Matt Lottich’s first four seasons and four of the last five years overall.
- Valpo played its first MVC games of the season on Jan. 9-10, starting conference play at home for the third straight year, this time vs. Missouri State.
- The Jan. 9 start to conference play marked Valpo’s latest since head coach Scott Drew’s team commenced the Mid-Continent Conference slate on Jan. 11, 2003 vs. Western Illinois.
Series Notes: Illinois State
- Valpo won both meetings last season to snag the lead in the all-time series, 9-8.
- The Brown & Gold have strung together five straight wins over the Redbirds.
- Valpo trailed by 17 points at halftime in the most recent matchup, but stormed back for a 65-62 victory on Feb. 15, 2020.
- Valpo’s string of success against Illinois State has included a pair of dramatic comebacks. In addition to last season’s 17-point rally, Valpo erased a 10 point-deficit with less than two minutes to play on Jan. 2, 2019 with a Markus Golder buzzer-beater capping the comeback.
Inside the Redbirds
- Picked to finish ninth in the MVC Preseason Poll.
- Coming off a 71-56 win over defending Missouri Valley Conference champion Bradley on Wednesday night.
- Led in scoring by DJ Horne at 13.8 points per game, while Josiah Strong (12.2 ppg) and Antonio Reeves (11.7 ppg) are also averaging in double figures.
- Entering Saturday, Donovan Clay has started 45 consecutive games. He made his first start during the third game of his freshman season (2019-20) and has started every game since.
- Clay, Krikke and Sackey have all started the first dozen games this year. Krikke made only one start as a freshman last season.
- After starting six straight games, freshman Connor Barrett came off the bench on Dec. 16 at DePaul. However, he returned to the starting five on Dec. 20 vs. Loyola.
- Senior Eron Gordon came off the bench for the season’s first two games, but has made 10 straight starts.
- Reaching 80 points has been the key number for Valpo this season, as the team is 3-0 when scoring 80 or more, but 0-9 when scoring fewer than 80. The 80-point precipice has led to victories throughout the Matt Lottich Era, as the team is 34-2 when scoring 80 during his tenure. Valpo was 25-15 under Lottich when scoring 70-79 points entering this season, but is 0-3 in such games this year.
- Daniel Sackey is in the top 10 in the Missouri Valley Conference in free-throw percentage, a far cry from two years ago as a freshman, when he was seventh on his own team in that category. He has climbed from 63.8 percent as a freshman to 70.8 percent as a sophomore to 83.3 percent (20-of-24) as a junior this season.
- Ben Krikke is 9-for-9 from the free-throw line over Valpo’s last six games. His last miss came on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan.
- Krikke has already reached double figures nine times in the first 12 games of his sophomore season, matching his total number of double-figure outputs in 33 games as a freshman last season. He has scored in double figures six times in his last seven games.
- One area where the team hopes to show improvement this weekend is on the glass. Valpo has been outrebounded in seven straight games, 10 out of 12 this season and 17 of the last 21 games dating back to last season.
- In addition, Valpo hopes to reverse cold shooting this weekend. The team has hit a season low for field-goal percentage in three straight contests, most recently 30.6 percent on Jan. 20 vs. Loyola.
Notes Wrapping Up Jan. 16 at DePaul
- Goodnews Kpegeol, who returned after missing the previous two games due to COVID-19 protocols, had a season-high seven rebounds to share the team lead with Eron Gordon. After entering the game with 11 total rebounds this season, the junior college transfer nearly doubled that total against the Blue Demons. Kpegeol also went 6-for-6 at the free-throw line to finish with eight points in addition to swiping three steals.
- Eron Gordon led the team with 12 points, pacing the squad in scoring for the second straight game after not doing so in any of his first 44 career contests at Valpo. The senior also led the team in rebounding for the fourth time this season (and third straight game) after not doing so at all during the 2019-20 season. This marked his second straight game with seven rebounds, one shy of his career high that occurred in the season opener at Vanderbilt.
- Daniel Sackey contributed a season-high nine points and six boards, equaling a career high on the glass. This marked Sackey’s fourth career six-rebound game and first this season. He was a bright spot, adding three assists and no turnovers at the point-guard spot to his stat line.
- After going with the same starting lineup for six consecutive games, head coach Matt Lottich switched it up at DePaul as senior Mileek McMillan made his first start since Dec. 6. He was limited late in the nonconference slate while battling tendinitis. Freshman Connor Barrett returned to a bench role, joining fellow rookies Sheldon Edwards and Jacob Ognacevic as the first three players off the bench.
- Valpo outscored DePaul at the free-throw line 19-14, the first time this season the team outscored its opponent at the free-throw line and lost. Previously, Valpo was 0-7 when being outscored on foul shots and 3-0 when outscoring the opponent at the stripe.
- The foul line was a bright spot for Valpo, as the team went 19-of-23 (82.6 percent), its second-best free-throw percentage of the year behind 83.3 (20-of-24) at Central Michigan. Valpo started the game against DePaul 17-for-17 at the charity stripe before its first misfire with 5:52 left in the second half.
- Valpo shot a then season-low 34 percent from the field and went 3-of-15 (20 percent) from 3-point distance. The Brown & Gold also turned it over 16 times, snapping a stretch of three straight games with fewer than 10 turnovers, its first such stretch since 2016-17, the team’s final season in the Horizon League and Matt Lottich’s first as Valpo head coach.
- This game was Valpo’s latest regular-season nonconference game since hosting Eastern Kentucky as part of ESPN’s BracketBusters event on Feb. 23, 2013.
- Valpo and DePaul matched up for the first time since Feb. 13, 1980. It was Valpo’s first game against a Big East team since Nov. 27, 2006 at Marquette. The defeat snapped a four-game winning streak against current members of the Big East with all four victories coming against Butler when both teams were in the Horizon League.
A Look Back at 2019-20: Just two years removed from finishing in last place and being knocked out in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as a first-year Valley member, head coach Matt Lottich’s team did more than hold its own, ascending into a tie for sixth in the league standings before finishing as the conference tournament runner-up. Valpo became the first team in the history of Arch Madness to reach the title game after playing in the opening round.
- Sophomore Donovan Clay was named to the Preseason MVC Second Team.
- Valpo was picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll based on a survey of the conference’s head coaches, media members and sports information directors.
- Valpo exceeded preseason expectations a year ago after being picked to finish ninth. The Brown & Gold tied for sixth in the regular-season standings and went on to finish as the conference tournament runner-up.
Who’s Back, Who’s New?
- This year’s team features 11 returning letter winners (nine scholarship, two walk-on) to go along with six newcomers (four scholarship, two walk-on).
- Three letter winners departed from last year’s team.
- Valpo returns 59.2 percent of its scoring and 64.3 percent of its rebounding from last season. Both numbers are up from a year ago, when Valpo returned just 40.1 percent of its scoring and 35.7 percent of its rebounding from 2018-19.
- Last season, the entire roster was from either Indiana, Illinois or outside the United States. This year, Valpo has added three additional states to the mix in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Florida.
- Still, six players hail from Illinois and four from Indiana. The six Illinois natives are the most since 2015-16.
- Coincidentally, Valpo’s last player from the state of Florida before Sheldon Edwards shares the same last name. Lakeland native Richie Edwards played for the Brown & Gold during the 2011-2012 campaign.
- Goodnews Kpegeol is the first Valpo player from the state of Minnesota since Cory Johnson’s final season on campus in 2010-2011.
- Jacob Ognacevic is Valpo’s first player from Wisconsin since Andrew Ferry in 2008-2009.
Arrow Pointed Up
- Valpo made its first conference championship appearance since 2015, doing so after being picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll.
- Valpo reached the conference title game as only a third-year Missouri Valley Conference member. When Valpo transitioned from the Mid-Continent Conference to the Horizon League prior to the 2007-2008 season, the program didn’t reach the conference championship game until Year 5 and followed by winning its first Horizon League Tournament title in Year 6.
- The men’s basketball program became the first Valpo team in any sport to reach the Missouri Valley Conference championship game during the department’s young tenure in the prestigious league.
- Valpo accepted a postseason tournament invitation for the first time since joining The Valley, agreeing to a CollegeInsider.com Tournament berth before the event was canceled due to the coronavirus.
- The program had its largest win increase from the previous season (four) since jumping from 18 wins in 2013-14 to 28 in 2014-15.
- Valpo finished with a winning record during the nonconference portion of the season for the 10th straight year. In addition, Valpo continued its history of home dominance and hasn’t finished with a losing mark at the ARC since 1991-92, extending its streak to 28 seasons. Valpo achieved a double-figure home win total for the ninth time in the last 10 years.
2019-20 Team Statistical Feats
- Led the Missouri Valley Conference in assists per game at 15.2, the first time Valpo led a conference in that area since pacing the Horizon League in 2011-2012. The 15.2 assists per game was Valpo’s highest total since 2010-11 (15.8 apg) and the team’s second-highest output over the last 13 seasons. The squad ranked 29th nationally in assists per game and 12th in total assists.
- Averaged 7.7 steals per game to rank second in the MVC and totaled 270 steals, a number that ranked 18th The team had its highest steals average since 2010-11 and the second-highest over the last 16 seasons.
- The team averaged 72.3 points per game, second in the MVC. That was the team’s second-highest scoring average over the last eight seasons. In addition, the team jumped 5.5 points per game from 2018-19 to 2019-20.
- Valpo made 287 3-pointers, the team’s second-most since 2008-09 and the third-most over the last 30 years.
- The team had 922 made field goals, its third most over the last 30 years.
- Valpo committed just 12.7 turnovers per game, the team’s lowest total over the last 30 seasons.
2020 Arch Madness Accomplishments
- The Valpo/Loyola quarterfinal was the 18th overtime game in MVC Tournament history and the 20th game decided by a single point. It was the first one-point game in the MVC Tournament since Indiana State’s 51-50 victory over Evansville in 2013.
- Valpo’s 89 points in the MVC semifinal against Missouri State were the seventh-most in a game in the 30-year history of Arch Madness. It was the highest scoring output in any MVC Tournament contest since Creighton put 99 on Evansville on March 3, 2012.
- Valpo scored 287 points in the MVC Tournament, the third most in the history of the event and the most since Indiana State scored 310 in 1978.
- The team’s 138 rebounds were the fourth most in MVC Tournament history and the most since Tulsa had 143 in 1978.
- The 107 made field goals were the third most in MVC Tournament history and the most since Indiana State in 1978.
- The 29 made 3-point field goals tied for the second most in MVC Tournament history (despite going 0-for against Evansville), joining 2009 Illinois State (32) and 1999 Evansville (29).
- The 90 3-point field goal attempts shattered the previous tournament record of 76 (Drake 2008, Illinois State 2009).
- Valpo made 10 3-pointers in the conference championship game, tying for the fourth most in the history of the MVC Final just a few days removed from hitting no 3s in a win over Evansville. Valpo became the first team to make zero 3s in an MVC Tournament Game since Southern Illinois went 0-for-6 on March 5, 1994 vs. Missouri State.
- Valpo’s 29 3-point attempts in the MVC final tied for the second most in the history of the title game, joining Illinois State in 2009 (35 vs. UNI 2009) and Illinois State in 2012 (29 vs. Creighton).
- Only one team since 1994 had made 15 or more field goals in the first half of an MVC title game (Drake 16 vs. Illinois State in 2008), and Valpo and Bradley had 15 apiece in the first half of this year’s championship game.
- Valpo made seven 3s in the first half of the title game against Bradley, tying the MVC Tournament title game record of seven set by Southern Illinois on March 7, 1989 vs. Creighton. Valpo set the conference title game record for 3-point attempts in the first half with 16, eclipsing the previous mark of 15 set by Illinois State on March 8, 2009 vs. UNI.
- Ryan Fazekas’ 21 3-point attempts in the MVC Tournament tied for the ninth-most in the history of the event.
- Associate head coach Luke Gore is in his 19th year on staff and has served under four different head coaches. The Valpo veteran has helped the team to eight postseason berths in the last 10 years and was on staff for the three winningest seasons in program history. He oversees the team’s post players in addition to leading Valpo’s scheduling and scouting efforts.
- Assistant coach Rob Holloway is back for his third 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. Bowen coordinates the team’s offense.
- Director of Basketball Operations Jason Karys is in his second 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.
- Bob Brooks is in his 17th year as Valpo Director of Strength & Conditioning at Valpo and has returned to oversight of men’s basketball strength & conditioning in 2020-21. He has worked with Valpo teams since 1994.
- Graduate Assistant Peter Funk is in his second year in that role after three years as an undergraduate manager.
- Athletic trainer Ken DeAngelis is in his second 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 eight times in the last 10 years, including last year where Valpo accepted a postseason berth but the tournament was not played due to COVID-19.
- 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. 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. He has gone on to a successful career overseas with CSKA Moscow (2018-2019), Anadolu Efes (2019-2020) and Kirolbet Baskonia (2020-present).
- Valpo has produced over 50 professional players in the last 25 years.
#0 Goodnews Kpegeol, R-So. (St. Paul, Minn.)
- Squeezed a season-high seven rebounds on Jan. 16 at DePaul to share the team lead. Also went 6-for-6 at the free-throw line to finish with eight points in addition to swiping three steals.
- Posted the first double-figure scoring output of his collegiate career with 10 points on Dec. 9 vs. SIUE.
- Scored his first collegiate points and finished with nine in 27 minutes of action on Dec. 4 at Purdue.
- Made his Valpo debut in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt.
- Joins the program as a junior college transfer after averaging 12.0 points and 5.8 rebounds at Southwest Mississippi in 2019-20.
- Started the 2018-19 season at Taylor Made Prep in Pensacola, Fla., then transfered to Kansas State at the semester break and sat out the remainder of that season due to transfer rules.
- Was a four-year letter winner at North High School in St. Paul, leading his team to a 22-5 overall mark and 15-1 conference record as a senior.
- Played his high school basketball for Damian Johnson, who played collegiately at the University of Minnesota before going on to a professional career from 2010-2016. Johnson was teammates with Valpo head coach Matt Lottich when both played for the Oita Heat Devils in Japan in 2010-2011.
- First name comes from his parents’ belief that he could bring something good into the world.
#1 Sigurd Lorange, So. (Trondheim, Norway)
- Appeared in nine games in 2019-20 before having his rookie season cut short by a hip injury.
- Averaged 2.9 points per contest while shooting a robust 60 percent (6-of-10) from 3-point land in limited action.
- Played all kinds of sports as a child. His best three sports were soccer, handball and basketball. There were phases of his life where he wanted to pursue soccer or handball, but eventually figured out that basketball was the most fun sport for him.
#2 Zion Morgan, R-Sr. (Chicago, Ill.)
- Appeared in 28 games during his first season at Valpo in 2019-20.
- Joined the program as a junior college transfer after two seasons at Wabash Valley College.
- Started his collegiate career by playing in 27 games and making five starts at UNLV in 2016-17.
- Was teammates with Valpo’s Nick Robinson at Kenwood Academy in Chicago.
#3 Steven Helm III, R-So. (Valparaiso, Ind.)
- Handed out a team-high five assists and scored his first collegiate points in the Dec. 6 victory over Judson.
- Made his Valpo debut on Dec. 4 at Purdue and recorded a plus-minus of +12 to lead the team.
- Spent the last two years in Japan serving a mission for his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Started his collegiate career at Carroll College, where he competed in both basketball and track & field.
- Connected at a 47.1 percent clip from 3-point range and a 94.2 percent clip from the foul line.
- Qualified for nationals in track & field and helped his basketball team to the national tournament while at Carroll.
- Transferred to Valpo and sat out the 2017-18 basketball season while competing in track & field that spring.
- Led his Valparaiso High School team to a 20-7 record as a senior, averaging a team-high 16.1 points/game along with 3.5 assists/game.
- Mother is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Valpo. Father Steve Jr. was an NAIA Third Team All-American at Montana State University-Northern and went on to play for the American Basketball Association’s Indiana Legends after his collegiate career. Steve Jr. followed his playing days with a coaching career that featured four seasons as an assistant on the Valpo women’s basketball staff.
- Considers himself a "movie buff" and "Star Wars nerd." Saving Private Ryan and Star Wards Episode 3 are his favorite movies.
#4 Daniel Sackey, Jr. (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
- Contributed a season-high nine points and six boards on Jan. 16 at DePaul, equaling a career high on the glass with his fourth career six-rebound game and first this season.
- Finished with his highest assist total since his nine-dime effort on Dec. 18, 2019 by handing out eight helpers on Dec. 9, 2020 vs. SIUE. Also swiped four steals, matching a career high with his second career four-steal effort.
- Put together a balanced line of six points, five rebounds and six assists in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt - the first time in his collegiate career that he’s had five or more in all three categories in the same game. Also swiped four steals, equaling a career high.
- Ranked fifth in the MVC and second among sophomores at 3.6 assists per game… Had a team-high 121 assists to go along with 6.3 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game and 35 steals while averaging 25.5 minutes over 34 contests (25 starts) as a sophomore in 2019-20.
- Made a buzzer-beater to upstage Canadian powerhouse Carleton in overtime in August 2019, 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, So. (Alton, Ill.)
- Enjoyed the fourth 20-point game of his career and his second this season with a season-high 21 points on Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State.
- Became the second MVC player with a 13-rebound effort this season on Dec. 19 at Toledo, in the process securing his first career double-double and the first by a Valpo player in 2020-21. He scored a team-high 17 points to complement his effort on the glass.
- Became the first Missouri Valley Conference player with a five-block game this season on Dec. 17 vs. Purdue Northwest, also becoming the first Valpo player to stuff five shots in a game since Jaume Sorolla on Jan. 26, 2019 vs. Drake.
- Enjoyed his first 20-point output of the season and the third of his collegiate career to lead the team on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan. That marked his first 20-point effort in a road game at the collegiate level.
- Led the team in scoring with 12 points on Dec. 1 at UIC.
- Named to the MVC Preseason Second Team
- Leading into the season, put a lot of time into his shot, agility and being able to run faster and jump higher.
- Was one of two Valpo players to compete in all 35 games and made 33 starts during his freshman campaign.
- Was third on the team in scoring (9.4 ppg) and second in rebounding (4.6 ppg) while leading the team in blocked shots with 36 in 2019-20.
- Earned a place on the MVC All-Freshman Team in 2019-20.
- Scored in double figures on 19 occasions including eight outputs of 15+ points and two of 20+ points. He scored in double figures just once over his first seven games and then did so in 18 of the next 28.
- Is a high-level video game player, following in the footsteps of former Valpo sharp-shooter Ryan Fazekas. Enjoys playing NBA 2K games online all the time. Also enjoys tossing a football or baseball in his spare time.
#10 Eron Gordon, R-Sr. (Indianapolis, Ind.)
- Led the team in scoring for a third straight game and rebounding for a fourth straight game with five boards to go along with a season-high 14 points on Jan. 20 vs. Loyola.
- Led the team in rebounding for the third straight game on Jan. 16 at DePaul, pulling down seven boards to go along with a team-high 12 points. He paced Valpo in scoring for the second straight game after not doing so at all in any of his first 44 career contests.
- Shared the team lead with a season-high 13 points on Jan. 10 vs. Missouri State, pacing the squad in scoring for the first time in his Valpo career.
- Posted the eighth double figure scoring output of his Valpo career and his first of the season with 10 points on Dec. 9 vs. SIUE.
- Made his first start of the season, his fifth overall at Valpo and his first since Jan. 29, 2020 at Bradley in the Dec. 4 game at Purdue.
- Led the team on the glass for the first time in his Valpo career by squeezing a career-high eight rebounds in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt.
- Was one of two players on the team who appeared in all 35 games in 2019-20.
- Made the go-ahead layup with three seconds left in overtime in Valpo’s 74-73 upset win over Loyola in the MVC quarterfinal to help the Brown & Gold complete an 18-point rally. That was the 25th time since the start of the 1992-93 season that Valpo prevailed on a game-winner in the final five seconds.
- Became the third Valpo player to hit a game-winner in the final five seconds of a conference tournament or postseason game since 1992-93, joining Ryan Broekhoff (2013 vs. Green Bay) and Bryce Drew (1998 vs. Ole Miss).
- 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.
- Enjoys filming and editing videos and podcasting.
- Enjoys travel and features his destinations on one of his YouTube channels.
- Future plans include playing professional basketball, pursuing broadcast journalism and contributing to the family business, E3 Basketball Academy.
#11 Emil Freese-Vilien, Fr. (Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Appeared in 16 games and averaged 6.6 minutes per contest while totaling 16 points, four blocked shots, five assists and 15 rebounds (six offensive boards) during his rookie campaign in 2019-20.
- 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.
- Majoring in civil engineering
- Has been very interested in drawing for many years. Wanted to become an architect for a long time and still has that dream in the back of his mind. Spends a lot of time drawing blueprints and houses.
#12 Tyler Fricke, Fr. (Arlington Heights, Ill.)
- Made his collegiate debut and scored his first points with a pair of free throws in the Dec. 6 victory over Judson.
- Joined the Valpo program as a walk-on for the 2020-21 season.
- Father Scott coached Valpo head coach Matt Lottich at New Trier High School during Lottich’s playing days.
- Brother Zach pitches for the Valpo baseball team.
#13 Sheldon Edwards, Fr. (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
- Scored 19 points over the two games vs. Missouri State on Jan. 9-10.
- Poured in a personal-best 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting with eight rebounds on Dec. 9 vs. SIUE.
- Reached double figures for the first time in his Valpo career with a 10-point showing on Dec. 6 vs. Judson.
- Became the seventh Valpo freshman in the last 20 years to start the season opener on Nov. 27 at Vanderbilt.
- Averaged 21.2 points and 7.6 rebounds as a senior at Palm Beach Lakes High School in 2018-19.
- Spent a postgraduate year at TLAP Sports Academy in Port St. Lucie, Fla. during the 2019-20 season, averaging 32 points per game and five rebounds per contest while turning in two games of 40+ points.
- Favorite NBA player is Steph Curry, but he models his game after the likes of Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal. When he’s not playing basketball, the Valpo freshman spends much of his free time watching it.
#15 Luke Morrill, So. (Lombard, Ill.)
- Joined the program as a walk-on prior to the 2019-20 season.
- Saw action in five games, totaling nine minutes and accruing five points and two rebounds during his first season on campus.
- Majoring in computer engineering.
- Considers Valpo teammate Donovan Clay "like a brother" to him after the two were roommates as freshmen and during the spring 2020 COVID-19 quarantine.
- Enjoys fishing and wakesurfing, which is surfing in the boat’s wake without being directly pulled by the boat.
#20/21 Brock Pappas, Jr. (Valparaiso, Ind.)
- Made his season debut on Dec. 6 vs. Judson.
- 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.
- Is the first boys basketball player in Washington Township High School history to play at the Division-I level.
- Grew up attending Valpo games and remembers being a young child who looked up to Valpo basketball players.
- Has always been interested in working with kids. Initially wanted to be a teacher but decided pediatric nursing is the field for him.
#22 Mileek McMillan, Sr. (Merrillville, Ind.)
- Drained four 3s on his way to a team-high 18 points on opening night at Vanderbilt on Nov. 27, when he finished two points shy of a career high and equaled a personal best with seven made field goals.
- Was named to the MVC Most-Improved Team after upping his scoring average from 2.8 points per game as a sophomore to 8.8 points per game as a junior in 2019-20.
- Started all 34 games that he played as a junior after making just one start and averaging 8.1 minutes per game as a sophomore.
- Over doubled his rebounding average from the previous season, going from 1.5 to 3.2 in 2019-20. After making 10 3-pointers as a sophomore, he made 40 during his junior campaign and shot 42.3 percent from distance during conference play.
- Enjoys playing with his dog, roller skating and playing chess... Likes to look at the sky, especially prior to rainfall or during a sunset... Is a big fan of nature and the sound of trains.
- Twin brother Mahqueese attends Cal State Los Angeles.
- Was cut from his middle school basketball team in seventh grade, made the "B" team in eighth grade and missed his freshman year of high school with an injury.
#23 Ben Krikke, So. (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
- Shattered his previous season high by halftime with 17 first-half points on Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State on his way to a career-high 21. He joined Javon Freeman-Liberty, Tevonn Walker and Alec Peters as the only four Valpo players with 17+ points in a first half during Matt Lottich’s head coaching tenure (fifth season).
- Posted 16 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting in the Dec. 19 game at Toledo. The eight field goals marked a career high and the 16-point game was two shy of a personal best.
- Tied a career high with seven rebounds on Dec. 17 vs. Purdue Northwest.
- Had his fourth double-figure scoring output in the season’s first six games with 12 points to go along with a career-high three blocked shots on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan. He became the first Valpo player with three blocked shots in a game this season.
- Scored in double figures in each of the first two games of the 2020-21 season (at Vanderbilt, at UIC), the first set of back-to-back double-figure outputs in the sophomore’s collegiate career. His second straight double-figure showing featured 11 points on an efficient 4-of-5 shooting on Dec. 1 at UIC.
- Made his second career start and first against a Division-I opponent in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt. Finished with 13 points, all in the second half, in a career-high 34 minutes.
- Leading into the season, spent time working on improving his shooting and hitting shots at a higher rate, especially from 3. Also worked on bulking up and improving his strength, dribbling and ball-handling. Hopes to be versatile enough to play on the perimeter if needed.
- Appeared in 33 games and made one start during his freshman season… Averaged 6.7 points per game and 2.9 rebounds per contest while blocking 15 shots, coming away with 15 steals, shooting 79.2 percent at the foul line, draining 14 3s and handing out 22 assists… Shot 55.0 percent from the field, finishing fifth in the conference and second among freshmen in field-goal percentage.
- Hails from Edmonton, a very devout hockey city, but says basketball there is on the upswing.
- Never played ice hockey, but did compete in badminton, volleyball and various track & field events.
- Loves to go fishing in the summer. Also enjoys mountain biking and chess, which he learned from his grandfather.
#25 Nick Robinson, R-Sr. (Chicago, Ill.)
- Has opted out of the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
#34 Jacob Ognacevic, Fr. (Sheboygan, Wis.)
- Shared team high honors with 13 points in just 12 minutes on an efficient 4-of-7 shooting on Jan. 10 vs. Missouri State.
- Went off for 20 points in the home opener on Dec. 6 vs. Judson. This marks the seventh consecutive year that at least one Valpo player has scored 20+ points in the home opener. He and Connor Barrett became the first freshman tandem to each score 17+ points in the same game in over 20 years.
- Drained four triples in just 14 minutes of action to achieve double figures for the first time in his collegiate career with 12 on Dec. 4 at Purdue.
- Made his collegiate debut in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt, knocking down a 3 with his only shot attempt of the game to account for his first career points.
- Named to The Associated Press All-State First Team following his senior season at Sheboygan Lutheran in 2019-20 while also earning Herald Times Player of the Year, All-Big East Conference Player of the Year and Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-State First-Team status.
- Was a finalist for Wisconsin Mr. Basketball.
- Led his team to a 27-2 record and the state championship in Wisconsin Division 5 during his junior season in 2018-19 and was on the way to a repeat before the 2019-20 season was cut short due to COVID-19.
- Became the 38th player in the history of Wisconsin high school basketball to accumulate 2,000 career points, reaching the milestone on Jan. 23, 2020 with a 54-point game against Ozaukee
- Shattered the Sheboygan Lutheran scoring record that was previously held by Sam Dekker, who played in the NBA from 2015-2019 with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards…
- Is a big fan of mixed martial arts and roots for all Boston professional sports teams.
#35 Connor Barrett, Fr. (Chicago, Ill.)
- Had five steals on Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State, joining the short list of Valpo players with five or more steals in a game during the Matt Lottich Era (fifth season): Javon Freeman-Liberty (3), Lexus Williams (3) and Tevonn Walker (2).
- Scored 14 points on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan, his second double-figure scoring output in a three-game span. That effort was highlighted at the foul line, where he went 6-for-6.
- Knocked down five 3s in the home opener vs. Judson on Dec. 6, becoming the first freshman with five treys in a game since 2013-2014 and the first Valpo player to do so in the first four games of his freshman season since 2006-07.
- Accrued his first collegiate points (3), rebounds (3) and assists (2) on Dec. 1 at UIC. His 3-pointer marked Valpo’s lone made triple of the contest.
- One of three Valpo freshmen to make his collegiate debut on Nov. 27 at Vanderbilt.
- Spent a postgraduate year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire during the 2019-20 season.
- Averaged 11.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game at Loyola Academy as a high school senior during the 2018-19 season while knocking down 64 3-pointers and shooting at a 37.9 percent clip.
- Led his high school team to back-to-back regional championships and sectional final appearances. Winning roots go back to his middle school days, when his team won three straight championships in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Says winning at a young age helped him mature for the next level.
- Is an avid golfer whose best score is 73.