MASTODONS OPEN WITH 97-67 EXHIBITION WIN OVER CAPITAL UNIVERSITY
The Fort Wayne Mastodons entered the season as the consensus pick to win the Summit League, and in the exhibition opener against NCAA Division III Capital, the Mastodons displayed some of the components that have earned the preseason respect of national publications and media and coaches from the Summit League.
WHAT WE LEARNED…
The ‘Dons Can Still Hit Threes
Fort Wayne graduated one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the country last year in Max Landis, but this year’s team has plenty of shooters with long-distance accuracy. Sophomore Kason Harrell got a surprise start (Purdue transfer Bryson Scott rested an ankle) and the Pittsburgh area product delivered by connecting on both his long-distance attempts and scoring 16 points. Mo Evans returned to the floor and showed glimpses of what made him the Summit League’s Male Athlete of the Month last December. Evans scored 21 and added 6 assists while connecting on 3 of his 8 from behind the arc. DeAngelo Stewart scored a dozen points on 4 of 5 three-point shooting, John Konchar hit 2 of 3 and Charles Ruis hit a pair of bombs as the Mastodons connected on 14 of 28 as a team.
King of the ‘Dons
Jordon King is a transfer out of Seattle, and his skill and athleticism was on display in the exhibition win. King went high above the rim to deny a couple baskets (one was rule goaltending), had a crowd-pleasing two-handed showtime dunk late in the game, and hit one of his three 3-point attempts.
Xzavier Taylor Can Deliver Down Low
While it’s true the Crusaders didn’t have the post players to match Taylor’s 6’9”, 250-pound size, the transfer from Bradley showed effort and footwork that was impressive in the low block. Taylor got to the free-throw line 14 times (making 10), and was among the four Mastodons in double-figures with 14 points.
While 6’11” freshman Dylan Carl didn’t dress, two others played significant minutes. Jax Levitch is a 6’7” wing with the ability to stretch the defense and the diminutive Chris Rollins has explosive quickness, but both may need to take advantage of a redshirt year to produce at a high level. Levitch is behind John Konchar and DeAngelo Stewart on the depth-chart, and Rollins might be better suited to use his eligibility when senior guard Mo Evans graduates.
Mastodons are Deeper than Last Year
With the additions of Bryson Scott, Xzavier Taylor and Jordon King, and Mo Evans back at point guard, Fort Wayne can be a 9 or even 10-deep rotation. Racine Talla could be an X-factor with his length and athleticism. Talla returns for his second year with the Mastodons with much greater upper-body strength, and he could provide depth for multiple positions including the post all the way to the “3”.