One word came to mind for almost every member of the Penn men’s basketball freshman class when asked about their strengths: versatility.
With several big gaps to fill on the court this season, having a diverse skill set is helping the freshmen contribute in a big way to the Red and Blue. The class consists of guards Jonah Charles, Jordan Dingle, and Lucas Monroe in addition to center Max Lorca-Lloyd and forward Max Martz.
Lorca-Lloyd was a highly-touted recruit at center, and he joins the Quakers after having turned down an offer to play for Harvard. His addition to the Red and Blue will continue the Northfield Mount Hermon School pipeline, as he joins former teammate AJ Brodeur and replaces graduated seniors Jackson Donahue and Collin McManus.
At 6-foot-9, Lorca-Lloyd could see significant minutes on the court this season, as Penn looks to replace forward Max Rothschild. In the preseason, the freshman has looked to more experienced teammates as a resource in his transition to the Red and Blue.
“I’ve just been trying to soak up as much information as I can from [Brodeur] and Jarrod [Simmons] as well. With all the older guys in general, I’ve just been trying to learn and compete with them at the same time,” Lorca-Lloyd said.
While there is some uncertainty about who is going to see the most minutes this season, it is clear that the entire freshman class has the ability to contribute from a variety of positions.
“I’ll be playing a little bit of point all the way down to everything but the center position,” Monroe said. “I think that’s helpful offensively because [coach Steve Donahue] can sub guys and then just move me over positions and also defensively because I can guard multiple guys. So versatility is definitely one of my strengths.”
“I’m definitely a versatile player. I like to think that my game is very wide and that I can do whatever a coach needs me to do on the floor,” Dingle said. “Our play style is more on the side of positionless basketball where multiple people can perform multiple actions on our offense. We have a bunch of versatile guys on this team who are able to contribute in various different ways.”
While guards like Monroe and Dingle stand out for their adaptability, Charles has stood out for his shooting prowess. The Quakers will look to shore up their shooting this season, as the team struggled to rack up points from outside last year. To that end, Charles’ shooting performance looks promising for the Quakers, as the freshman went 4-for-8 behind the three-point arc during the Red and Blue Scrimmage last week.
“Once people start to notice that I’m a really good shooter, people are going to start not allowing me to shoot threes, which will actually allow the floor to open for my other teammates," Charles said. "That’s one less defender they have to worry about, so I can help them get to the basket that much easier.”
Although Martz and Dingle have faced some preseason setbacks — each coping with minor injuries — one thing is clear about the freshmen: They are excited to play whatever role is needed of them, and play it well.
“I think we can all have a huge impact on the team. We just need to, first of all, all get healthy, and then just play our role and do it to the best of our ability and do whatever we can to help the team win,” Lorca-Lloyd said.
Going into their first collegiate game against Alabama on Nov. 5, the freshmen all have the same end goal in mind.
“I’m looking forward to winning. I’m really looking forward to winning. The culture of success here is a really fantastic one, and I just want to add onto that legacy,” Dingle said.
Charles echoed this sentiment.
“I’m excited to win. All I want to do is win.”
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