Most scouting reports of the Fort Wayne men’s basketball squad probably won’t include a great amount of information on freshman forward Jax Levitch, but with each passing game, they might need to at least be cognizant of him. That is because as the year goes on, he very well may be utilized more and more.
“He’s been a guy who has been really impressing me for the last three or four months,” Coffman said. “I’ve gained confidence in him.”
The Mastodons (12-4, 2-1 Summit League) will host Denver (9-6, 1-1) today at 7 p.m. at the Gates Sports Center (ESPN 1380 AM, 100.9 FM).
Levitch got in a pair of December games against Austin Peay and at Stetson for significant minutes (16 total), but then found himself on the bench for a pair of games. However, Coffman has used him in each of the past two games, including six minutes in the Mastodons’ two-point win at Omaha recently.
“We got in some foul trouble,” Coffman explained, “I put him in a critical time of the game.”
Levitch brings length (he is 6-foot-7) and skill to the court and has the ability to eventually play multiple positions once he adds strength.
“He’s going to be really good for us,” Coffman said. “On any given night, I feel confident putting him in the game. It’s a touch of being a numbers game right now. He’s a four man, but skill-wise and over his career he’ll be a four/three.
“He’s gotten squeezed a touch (in the playing rotation) when we’ve gone small with John Konchar (at the four), but he’s a very good player.”
Levitch has made 6 of his 10 shots this season and played 62 minutes in nine games, while scoring 18 points total and grabbing 13 rebounds.
“If he can maintain his role that he has so far,” Coffman said, “he could be a guy that could evolve into a 15- to 20-minute a game guy this year.”
Finding minutes on any team is difficult for a freshman, but for a team that has been as successful as Fort Wayne (it is the defending Summit League regular season champions) is a challenge. Levitch’s sporadic role shouldn’t be taken by Mastodon fans as anything other than his getting on the court will be a process.
“He’s got a great work ethic,” Coffman said. “He’s added muscle and weight to his body. He’s really working on his game and is shooting it at a high level. He’s building my confidence every day.”
Coffman goes with redshirt sophomore Konchar at the forward spot to start and then senior DeAngelo Stewart and redshirt junior Racine Talla off the bench, but that rotation is altered by match-ups due to the varying size and skill sets of Levitch, Talla and Stewart.
Levitch was heavily recruited out of Trinity High School in Louisville and attended a Florida academy (Elev8 Academy) last season to improve himself athletically, and Coffman said he is thrilled with landing Levitch, who had multiple Division I offers out of high school.
“He’s been every bit of what I thought that I recruited,” Coffman said. “He shoots it. He’s got a big heart. He works at his craft and is a great teammate. I think that he is going to be a really, really good player in our program.”