For the past two men's basketball seasons, John Konchar has been asked to do a lot for the Fort Wayne program, and that won't cease in the 2017-18 season.
The redshirt junior will be asked to rebound with abandon (as he has for two seasons) and score in a variety of ways. However, he'll also be asked to take on more of a ballhandling role than he ever has in his career to this point with the graduation of guard Mo Evans. However, to assist (no pun intended) Konchar at the point guard spot, fourth-year Fort Wayne coach Jon Coffman recently brought in a recruit to compete with redshirt freshman Chris Rollins and help Konchar.
The Mastodons signed Matt Weir out of the United States Air Force Prep Academy.
“He is a tremendous passer,” Coffman told The News-Sentinel recently. “He has great floor vision and has a great skill set of being able to pass the ball, shoot the ball, and attack the paint.”
This past season, Weir averaged 18 points per game and six assists (with an impressive 3:1 assist to turnover ratio), while playing against other prep schools and junior colleges.
The John Glenn High School (New Concord, Ohio) graduate helped his high school team to the 2016 Class 2A Ohio state championship as a senior and is the fourth recruit signed for next season by Coffman, none of which have come straight out of high school.
In addition to the 6-foot-1 Weir, Coffman added 6-foot-8 center Cameron Benford (Hillcrest Academy) last November, as well as Jairus Stevens (6-foot-5 guard, Cheshire Academy) and Northern Arizona transfer Marcus DeBerry (6-foot-5 guard) this spring.
“Getting more mature bodies,” Coffman explained, “having 22-, 23-, 24-year-old seniors, to have guys that have a maturity in their actions, as well as in their bodies, is something that I think translates to success early in their careers, but even more so late in their careers.”
Konchar spent his first season out of high school as a redshirt, as did Rollins last year. This past season, Fort Wayne center Brent Calhoun had his most productive year of his career after beginning his career with a year of work and no games.
Next year's 14-man roster will feature 12 players that either redshirted a season or spent a year at a prep school.
“That is something that we really, really focus on,” Coffman said of using additional time to develop the student-athletes. “We scour the junior college ranks, particularly for guys that were Division I guys and then went to junior college for a year in between or prep school guys.
“They have a little bit of experience. They've gotten older and more mature and they are ready to come into our program and fit into our culture.”
That “culture” was recently recognized by the NCAA for academic excellence, and Coffman said that Weir will blend in seamlessly after spending a year on a military campus and being exposed to an intense emphasis on “teamwork and leadership.”
“He fits the culture of our locker room,” Coffman said. “He is a gym rat and made himself into a tremendous player. He loves the game and he's a great student. He's been at the Air Force Academy. He's obviously been vetted at the highest level.”
DeBerry brings talent, experience
While Benford, Stevens and Weir can compete immediately, DeBerry will have to sit out the 2017-18 season before playing for Fort Wayne for the following two seasons. However, the wait should be worth it.
As a sophomore at Northern Arizona, DeBerry averaged over 10 points per game and led his team in assists and 3-point makes. The Union City, Tenn. native started 55 games for Northern Arizona over the past two seasons.
“Marcus had great success at the Division I level as a two-year starter,” Coffman said in a release. “He is a versatile player that combines great perimeter skills with his size and length.”
Fort Wayne's emphasis on player development, as mentioned earlier, appealed to DeBerry, according to Coffman.
“He loved our track record for developing players during their transfer redshirt year,” Coffman said. “I believe his ability to shoot and pass at a high level will fit into our style of play.”
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