EUREKA, Ill. – The Eureka College men's basketball team began preseason preparation for the 11th season of the Chip Wilde coaching era early Sunday at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. The Red Devils return three starters and 18 letterwinners from last season's 13-12 team.
Eureka will turn to its experienced backcourt in junior guards Shea Feehan (Peoria, Ill./Notre Dame H.S.) and Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods H.S.) for offensive production in 2017-18. Feehan, who became just the fourth player in program history to score 600 points in a season in 2016-17, will enter his third collegiate season ranked 21st on Eureka's modern-era scoring list with 928 career points. He'll likely become Eureka's 20th 1,000-point scorer since 1978 and the first since Jordan Kindred and Mark Lessen eclipsed the mark in 2013. Feehan was an All-St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference First Team choice, an All-Region pick by D3hoops.com and set new single-season Division-III era school records last season with a 26.7 scoring average, 173 free throws made and a .930 free throw percentage.
Thomas gives the Red Devils another efficient perimeter scorer. The third-year guard had a pair of 40-point games as a sophomore last winter, including a 44-point night at Greenville on Jan. 11 that fell three points shy of the Red Devils' single-game record. Thomas was the SLIAC's most accurate 3-point shooter as a sophomore, connecting on 44 percent (62-for-141) of his attempts from beyond the arc. He also distributed 73 assists and boasted a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Junior forward and two-year starter Alex Wiegand (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) will anchor Eureka's interior efforts. Wiegand has appeared in all 50 games since his arrival on campus in 2015, 49 of which have been starts. He is a career 53 percent shooter, averaging 7.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest. His 281 career rebounds already rank 37th on Eureka's modern era list.
Senior guards Ryan McElmurry (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg H.S./Black Hawk) and Brady Sanders (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest H.S./Illinois Wesleyan) also return to bolster Eureka's guard rotation. McElmurry played in all 25 games last season as one of EC's top defenders, leading all Red Devils with 29 steals. Sanders emerged as another dependable option, earning four starting assignments in the second half of the season, all against SLIAC opponents. He played 12 minutes or more in 12 of the final 17 games last season.
Sophomore Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora H.S.) also returns for EC. The 6-foot-5 forward made 18 appearances as a freshman, including eight starts. He broke out for a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double versus Greenville on Feb. 11.
The Red Devils also return a group of four-year seniors in Austin Ahnafield (Rochester, Ind./El Paso-Gridley H.S.), Cade Fawcett (Canton, Ill./Canton H.S.) and Chet Griffith (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.). The trio has combined to make 77 career appearances, including starts for Ahnafield and Fawcett during the 2015-16 campaign. Griffith was named to National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court last summer and Fawcett was Eureka's representative on the SLIAC All-Sportsmanship Team.
Prior to the start of the regular season, Eureka will take a pair of road trips for exhibition games versus NCAA Division I opponents. The Red Devils will fly to Denton, Texas for a Nov. 10 game against North Texas. EC will return to the Midwest for a 2:05 p.m. tipoff on Nov. 12 against Missouri Valley Conference member Loyola (Ill.) in Chicago, Ill.
Eureka is scheduled to open the regular season on Wednesday, Nov. 15 against USCAA Robert Morris-Peoria at the Reagan Athletic Complex at 7 p.m. The SLIAC opener is slated for Wednesday, Nov. 29 at home against Greenville at 8 p.m.