DENVER - Under the leadership of sixth-year head coach Quintin Grogan, the Johnson & Wales (Denver) men's basketball team will have plenty of talent and experience to rely on as the Wildcats begin their first season as an NCAA Division III program.
The Wildcats return nine players, including four senior starters from last season: Andrew Romero III, Jontrell Herman, Bailey Stephens and King Grant-Perry. Seniors Jonny Pomerleau, Ed Meyers Jr., and Dakota Patton are also back to provide depth and leadership while sophomore Jalen Scandrett and junior Tim Leutritz complete the experienced returning cast for Coach Grogan.
JWU is the newest member of the nine-team Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Wildcats have a natural built-in rivalry in the league with Colorado College, located just 67 miles south along the I25 corridor.
"This is not only great for us as a men's basketball team; this is great for the university. This step into NCAA Division III is a welcomed opportunity for us and all of our teams to face the rivalry and the competition and the excitement that goes with playing in a conference that is as great as the SCAC," Grogan said. "We welcome the challenge. I think it's a great thing for us, and we're really looking forward to competing against these teams."
Romero and Herman are two of the most accomplished players in program history, ranking No. 1 and 2, respectively, on the career scoring list. They are also both among the top three all-time assist leaders for JWU.
"As a senior, I just want to go out and compete and honestly just have fun while we're doing it as brothers," said Herman, a native of Duck Hill, Miss. "We're basically just focusing on competing and having fun."
In all, the Wildcats bring back 84 percent of their scoring and 75 percent of their rebounding from a season ago.
"We have a good blend of talent that will help us in different areas," Grogan said. "We're looking forward to blending the new guys with the returners, the veterans. They're learning very quickly in practice. I think they'll be OK once the season starts and once they get a little experience under their belt. They'll be able to blend in very well with the veterans."
Following an exhibition against at Air Force on Tuesday, Nov. 6, the Wildcats open the season Friday, Nov. 16 against Wisconsin-River Falls. Following the team's home opener Saturday, Dec. 1 against Whittier, JWU men's basketball will play it first official SCAC game Tuesday, Dec. 4 at Colorado College.