This season the GW men’s basketball team welcomes a group of five diverse freshmen.
Albert Roma, Dorien Brown, Andry Sola, Jason Smith and Valery Khamenia represent three different nationalities and three separate positions on the court.
“I’m impressed with our new players,” GW head coach Tom Penders said. “There are days when three or four of them look like they are going to contribute in a major way.”
But because GW has a solid core of returning players, the freshmen will not be pushed to make a contribution immediately.
“I don’t think we need any of our new players to be impact players,” GW head coach Tom Penders said. “I think we need our new players to supplement and learn how to play at this speed and learn the fundamentals that you need. We can bring them along at their own pace.”
The most significant addition this year is center Albert Roma, a native of Spain. At 7-0 and 225 pounds, Roma brings some much-needed size to the Colonial lineup. At one time, Roma played in Europe but most recently played alongside fellow GW freshman Jason Smith at the Winchendon School in Massachusetts, averaging 11 points, seven rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.
“I am pleasantly surprised that Albert Roma is as athletic as he is,” Penders said. “He’s seven feet tall but he’s very athletic, and he’s very coachable, and a very hard-working guy.”
Guard Dorien Brown is an imposing figure in the backcourt at 6-5 and 222 pounds. Brown has demonstrated the ability to play solidly on offense and can be a threat from three-point range. As a senior at St. Thomas More in Connecticut, he averaged 16 points, five rebounds and two assists per game.
With the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, swingman Andry Sola promises to put some three-pointers on the board for GW this season. Averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds as a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas, Sola has proven scoring ability.
Smith also comes to GW from Winchendon, where he averaged 13 points and seven rebounds a game as a senior. Look for some aggressive and exciting plays from this 6-8, 210-pound forward who once shattered a backboard during pre-game warmups in high school.
“He’s a terrific athlete,” Penders said. “He brings a lot of intensity to the court.”
Valery Khamenia is a 6-8, 214-pound swingman from Belarus. Although he is an exceptional player, Khamenia may not see much playing time this season due to problems with English.
“He’s got a lot to offer eventually,” Penders said. “We don’t need a lot of production from him, because he’s going to be playing behind Yegor (Mescheriakov).”
Penders said he feels confident in the academic effort and ability of his young players.
“I haven’t had to sit a single one down in my office yet and talk to them about grades,” Penders said.
As the season progresses, these freshmen all will have the ability to become key facets in GW basketball. However, for now, Penders says he simply wants the freshmen to “have fun and play hard.”
-Dustin Gouker contributed to this report.