Four returning scholarship players will join seven freshmen in the GW men’s basketball team’s first game Sunday, giving these new teammates their first chance to play in an official game together. The Colonials will host the E.A. Sports All Stars in an exhibition game at the Smith Center.
The Colonials have been practicing since Oct. 12, focusing on improving their rebounding and defense, but head coach Karl Hobbs said his team is restless for some game action.
“We need to play an exhibition game desperately,” he said. “Guys are getting a little itchy, they’re starting to get a little bored, and we really need to get a sense of where we are with everything.”
The game will be the first in a Colonials uniform for recruited freshmen Omar Williams, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Alexander Kireev and Mike Hall, along with freshmen Dokun Akingbade, Jaz Cowan and Funsho Olulafe, who were added to the team’s roster this fall.
With sophomore forward Tamal Forchion out for at least the first month of the season with an ankle injury, as many as three of these rookies could land spots in the starting lineup this season. But Hobbs said starting spots are still up for grabs.
“(With the exhibition game), we’ll get a chance to see where they are at this stage. I think they’ve made some terrific improvements, but they need to lace them up and get some game experience.”
The E.A. Sports All Stars, an exhibition squad owned by Double Pump, Inc. featuring former college standouts from a variety of Division I schools, will be the Colonials first opponent this season.
Notable players include former Georgia Tech University swingman Fred Vinson and forward Bennett Davison, who won a national championship with the University of Arizona in 1997. Davison averaged nearly nine points and seven rebounds during his collegiate career.
The E.A. Sports All Stars provide tough pre-season competition for schools around the country, as shown when they beat the University of North Carolina last November. While the game will not count for GW in the standings, junior guard Greg Collucci said the Colonials are approaching the game like any other.
“There are going to be good players there and it’s a good way to get ready for the season, so it counts in our minds,” he said. “Once the ball goes up, you want to win.”
GW’s first regular season game is at the University of Connecticut Nov. 25, giving the Colonials just over three more weeks to reach game form. Hobbs said the team has been making improvements but has a lot of work to do before the opener. They will get another chance to judge their progress with a second exhibition game at home against the Universal All Stars Nov. 14, the team that former standout Val Brown played for after his stint with the Colonials.
“We’re not quite there yet in terms of our rebounding, and I know we’re going to struggle with our half court execution,” Hobbs said. “We just need to find our personality a little bit. We need to get a sense of what we’re about.”