Today: Jun 17, 2024

Owls sixth man looks to end career strong

photo courtesy | Mark Tibor Vereen has averaged 7.6 points per game and has scored 183 total points.

Aaron Johnson – Special to the Southern News

As the rhythmic sound of dribbling echoed through Moore Field House, one player was seen standing alone at the free throw line preparing to release another shot. Rashamell Vereen, a senior guard from Meriden, Conn., said he believes he has worked hard to get to where he is now after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

“It was pretty tough,” said Vereen. “I had a trainer back at home that I worked with. Coach thought it would be hard for me to come back and to adapt to the environment, but I think I adapted pretty well by just staying in shape.”

Vereen won a Connecticut Class L state championship in high school (at Maloney High School in Meriden) before attending Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH.

He then transferred to Post University in nearby Waterbury, Conn. But after head coach Michael Donnelly left Post to take the head coaching position at Southern, Vereen followed, despite having to sit out a year as a double transfer.

“I sat him down and I told him I would love for him to come with me to Southern,” said Donnelly. “But due to NCAA rules as a second transfer, you would have to sit out and lose a year of eligibility.”

Donnelly said he urged Vereen to stay at Post and stick it out. But after only one semester following Donnelly‘s departure, Vereen transferred to Southern.

The coaching, Vereen said, played an intricate role in him wanting to play at Southern.

“The chemistry that I built with them at Post was a lot. I liked the way they coached and I like how they help the players develop as students and as players,” said Vereen.

Assistant coach Mike Makubika said Vereen is not only an impact player on the court, but also an outstanding person off of it.

“He’s a great guy. He puts others first and he’s definitely a team guy,” said Makubika. “He works hard off the court, he’s a great student, a great locker room guy, and just an all-around good guy.”

Donnelly said that it is Vereen’s maturity and toughness that has endeared him to his teammates and coaches.

photo courtesy | Mark TiborVereen has averaged 7.6 points per game and has scored 183 total points.
photo courtesy | Mark Tibor
Vereen has averaged 7.6 points per game and has scored 183 total points.

“Rash is an older guy with experience. He is only one of two seniors on the roster and he’s a small guy. He’s the smallest guy on the team, but he’s one of the toughest, if not the toughest,” said Donnelly.

On the season, Vereen is averaging 7.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 23 games. He’s scored a total of 183 points in 575 total minutes played.

Vereen ranks fifth on the team with 46 assists, tied for second with 26 steals, and has committed just 30 turnovers all season.

Makubika said Vereen is a sparkplug coming off the bench.

“He’s an energy guy coming off the bench. He’s a little guy that does so many different things for us,” said Makubika.

Donnelly said that there is only one word to describe Vereen.

“Dynamic — he is a dynamic athlete. If he wasn’t playing basketball, he would be playing something else. He’s got high Division-I athleticism and quickness,” said Donnelly.

When asked about what he thought was the best part of his game, Vereen smiled.

“Athleticism — I can do everything,” he said. “There’s just so much to my game, but I’m confident in my athleticism.”

Following his final campaign, Vereen said he is looking forward to graduating with a degree in Liberal Studies before moving on to the next chapter of his life.

“[It‘s] always student first and athlete second,” said Vereen. “This is my last year, I’m ready to graduate and move on with the next part my life.”

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