Sophomore stars look to build off last year


Myles Burns poses with a ball in his hands at practice, Sept. 20, 2019. The men’s basketball team will open up their season in the Den against Southeatern Baptis College on Oct. 26, 2019. Gabrielle Korein/The Maroon

Rae Walberg

At 8 a.m., mass communication sophomores Zach Wrightsil and Myles Burns tie the shoes that shuffle them across the court each day.

The basketball season doesn’t officially start until Oct. 26, with the first game against Southeastern Baptist University, but the Loyola team has big shoes to fill after their record-setting 2018-2019 season.

Last season, under Wrightsil’s and Burns’ leadership, Loyola men’s basketball won a title in the Southern States Athletic Conference and was given a shot at the national championship — a chance they hadn’t had since 2010.

Wrightsil ranked in the top 15 for total rebounds, assists and points scored in the nation and racked up 632 points in a single season: the third most in Loyola history. Burns led the team in steals with 85 and set a new Loyola record for rebounds, steals and block averages.

Their record-setting contributions earned both of them a spot on the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s third team and conference titles with Wrightsil earning freshman of the year and Burns, defensive player of the year.

Despite the plethora of personal accomplishments from last season, both are focusing on their contribution to the team effort rather than their own, especially since they are shooting for the national championship.

“We got a lot of new guys coming in, some freshmen, and there is just a bunch of different talents coming in,” Wrightsil said. “So we just got to get everybody onto the same page and just make sure we are getting ready for the season.”

Burns said he hopes to create a camaraderie and a family structure with the new players on the team. He said that he was inspired by upperclassmen mentoring him last year and he wants to build the same strong dynamic with this team.

According to Head Basketball Coach Stacey Hollowell, the leadership of Wrightsil and Burns is vital to the team’s energy.

“I see the guys being vocal in practice in a really positive way,” Hollowell said. “But the hustle, the fun that they have while they’re playing, all of that brings a kind of spirit to the group that is a little different than what we have in the past.”

With this leadership, Hollowell is confident that the team will build on their success from the past season.

“We’ve got a real shot in the finals of that [tournament] and obviously gives us an opportunity to make the national tournament and to have a shot and compete there as well,” Hollowell said.