ALBANY — During conditioning drills at a recent summer workout for the Great Danes, Will Amica showed off the impressive speed and burst he’s known for on the basketball court.
He also demonstrated the urgency he’s featuring in his approach to this offseason, during which he’s playing “catch-up” after a freshman campaign that saw the 6-foot-0 guard only able to log minutes in a single game because of injuries. In earnest, Amica’s offseason work began right when the UAlbany men’s basketball team’s season ended in late February with a loss to Hartford in the America East Conference semifinals, and continued this week with the start of the Great Danes’ official summer workout sessions under new head coach Dwayne Killings.
“I’ve been using this time to get better; building up skills that maybe I wasn’t as good at before I did get hurt, just [so] I can come into this year and improve, and play the best basketball that I can,” Amica said.
The only scholarship freshman on last season’s Great Danes, Amica earned strong reviews from teammates and then-head coach Will Brown for what he was able to show on the practice court last season. An elbow injury in the preseason, though, initially kept him out of game action, then a head injury further delayed Amica’s college debut. The former West Genesee High School star finally debuted during a mid-February game with nine frantic minutes — he scored six points, dished an assist, secured a steal and committed three fouls — but didn’t play the rest of the season as the Great Danes entered into the closing stretch of their 7-9 season.
One of the major factors in Amica’s decision to head to UAlbany after high school was the stability of the program, which had the same head coach for two decades in Brown. Amica said the combination of his injury-plagued season and the dismissal of Brown a day after the Great Danes’ 2020-21 campaign ended “was frustrating,” but it didn’t take long for Amica to decide he wanted to stay at UAlbany following the hire of Killings in mid-March.
“I liked how he pushes us and wants us to get better,” said Amica, who is one of the program’s six returning players. “I kind of fell in love with that, so that’s why I stayed here.”
Amica was recruited to UAlbany, in part, to become the successor to Ahmad Clark, the Great Danes’ lead guard who wrapped up his college career with the 2019-20 season. After a coaching change and the addition of nine new players to the program’s roster, Amica finds himself in a similar spot to everyone else on the team heading into the 2021-22 season.
“Everybody is going to give it all they got because nothing’s guaranteed to no one,” said De’Vondre Perry, UAlbany’s graduate transfer from Temple. “Everybody’s fighting for a spot.”
Like his teammates, Amica expressed appreciation for the competitive spirit shown during the Great Danes’ workout earlier this week. As important as the court work, Amica said, is the conditioning drills the team is putting itself through during its six weeks of summer workouts.
“We want to be the most-conditioned team in the league, even in the country if we can,” Amica said. “The intensity really helps with doing that.”