Timmy Greene | Staff photographer“Four men's basketball freshmen, from left to right: Jeremy Wagner, Eric Lynch, Jaylen Owens, and Justin Wagner.

Timmy Greene | Staff photographer
Four men’s basketball freshmen, from left to right: Jeremy Wagner, Eric Lynch, Jaylen Owens, and Justin Wagner.

Many people were surprised to see the Eastern Nazarene men’s basketball team with a record of over .500 and a shot at a conference championship this season. For the past 15 years, men’s basketball at ENC underperformed compared to the rest of the Commonwealth Coast Conference. So what was the difference this year?

There were plenty of familiar faces on the team from previous seasons, but there were also a lot of new faces. Of the seven freshmen on the team, six of them were from states not within the Northeast region, including Georgia, Texas, and Oklahoma. To go all the way to Boston to play for a school that won a total of just 19 games in the previous three seasons does not make a whole lot of sense. But when you ask the players themselves why they chose ENC, it becomes a lot clearer.

Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) explained, “I wanted to be far away from home. I wanted to be part of the revival of a team which got the community involved.”

Both Wagner brothers, Jeremy and Justin (Oklahoma City, Okla.), had similar answers.

“We both wanted to play basketball and baseball at the college level. And when we saw that their record was so poor, we knew we had a great opportunity to get major minutes right away as well as be part of a potential revival at ENC,” said Jeremy Wagner.

Jaylen Owens (Cleveland, Ohio) said, “I saw that the Wagners had signed [at ENC] and that Eric Lynch had signed and I wanted to be part of something special. I saw their talents and their gifts and knew that we could come together and be unstoppable as a force.”

There is a very common theme to the motives these players had in coming to ENC: they want to make a difference in the culture and they know that they can do it together. It is not going to be easy, but with this combination of talent, depth, and youth, the fans of Eastern Nazarene College are going to be watching exciting basketball for years to come.