Luke Devlin, John Puk, DJ Evans, Gary Johnson and Dave Wiegmann each experienced ups and downs during their careers with the University at Albany men’s basketball team, but all five made an impact on the program.
That patient quintet will be honored tonight at 7 on senior day, as third-place UAlbany (8-6, 14-13) hosts New Hampshire in the regular-season home finale at SEFCU Arena.
Devlin, a 6-foot-8 forward, is the first player recruited from Australia, and he helped develop a pipeline that also includes Sam Rowley, Peter Hooley and Mike Rowley.
After an exceptional freshman campaign, when he was among the league leaders in rebounding and scoring, Devlin has endured an injury-plagued career.
The three-time captain has been healthy lately, however, and he adds his experience and solid defense to a lineup that will try to defend the America East Conference championship next week.
“He’s one of the greatest people that I’ve ever coached, and he’s a tremendous student,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “He came here as a freshman from Australia, and he had a tremendous freshman year for us. Ever since, his body wouldn’t allow him to move forward and progress. It’s been frustrating, but I’ve never seen a player work as hard. He’s a great teammate, and I’m glad he can help us down the stretch.”
Johnson, a 6-6 swingman and junior college transfer, became a starter midway through last season. This year, he has started almost every game and has contributed nearly 11 points a game, along with his excellent defense.
“He’s really worked hard and remained patient,” said Brown. “He spent half the year on the bench while trying to get acclimated to Division I basketball, but when he finally got his opportunity, he was a big reason why we won the conference tournament last year.”
Evans, another junior college transfer, was strictly a backup last year to Mike Black, but he became the team’s starting point guard this year and was a consistent double-figure scorer.
“Last year was the first time DJ didn’t play major minutes in his entire career, but he’s had a great senior year and has played some good games for us,” said Brown.
Puk, a 6-10 fifth-year player, is the program’s all-time leader in blocked shots with 104.
“He’s a pre-med major who will be a doctor someday,” said Brown. “He’s shown flashes of brilliant play over his career, and in my opinion, he’s done things in certain areas that don’t show up in the scorebook.”
Wiegmann, a 6-8 forward, earned a starting role early this season. He has seen his minutes reduced, but he’s a 4.0 student with a bright future as a doctor.