This story was originally published on www.BallInMichigan.com
In the second half of a win over University of Michigan-Dearborn Nov. 7, Rochester College‘s Drew Maynard caught a lob from teammate Dramell Hogan and finished high above the rim with a dunk that brought out some ‘ooohs’ from the crowd.
Although plays like that are not the norm at the NAIA level, they’re becoming a common site for Rochester thanks to Maynard’s addition to the team.
“He’s coachable, he’s extremely talented and I think he’s probably the most electrifying player we’ve ever had,” said Rochester coach Klint Pleasant. “He’s really jelled with our team really well.”
In the team’s near-upset of Division I Kent State, Maynard also made some above-the-rim plays, footage of which made their way back to Rochester’s campus.
“We were in chapel and they put a replay up of one of my dunks at Kent State and the chapel kids went crazy, it was kind of funny,” Maynard said. “I think they (the crowds) really enjoy it and I just enjoy going out and playing for them. It’s a good feeling.”
Maynard, a senior and former standout at Lake Orion High School, is at his third college after starting his career at Division I Oakland University, then transferring to Division II Valdosta State in Georgia before making his way back home to Rochester to play his senior year of eligibility. So far, the transition has been an easy one.
“Coach Pleasant and I talked a lot about this, me coming back, and I was really excited to be back in Rochester Hills, playing basketball in front of my family again,” Maynard said. “They couldn’t see me when I was down in Georgia. So it’s good looking up in the crowd, seeing my mom, dad, grandma.”
Maynard’s on-court abilities are obvious. He’s an extremely athletic 6-foot-7 wing player by trade. But he’s also big and strong enough — he’s listed at 250 pounds — to be a presence underneath the basket, both offensively and defensively and as a rebounder for the Warriors. Off the court, though, he has also made valuable contributions to the program.
“He’s a perimeter player, but he’s a big body, he can rebound,” Pleasant said. “He’s just kind of helped take us to the next level. The great thing is he’s also helped our chemistry. Our guys like him and he’s just really fit in, not only with our basketball program but with our school. It has been a great start.”
Maynard has been an easy fit with the team because he came with no preconceived notions of wanting to be a star, despite coming from the Division I level to the NAIA. He simply wanted an opportunity to contribute to a really good team.
“It was easy to fit in,” Maynard said. “These guys just wanna play ball, and that’s all I want to do too. After a few practices, few open gyms, we were just clicking and got things rolling. We were looking at each other before the season started saying, ‘Wow … we’re going to be special. I’ve known about the history of this program and I’m just thankful for the chance he’s (Pleasant) given me.”
Pleasant had no questions about the talent level of his team, the USCAA national runners up last season, coming into the season. But with an influx of talent, he did wonder how long it would take to mesh together. During the team’s 6-1 start he’s had a pretty definitive answer — not long.
“Every season is different and they take on a life of their own,” Pleasant said. “This year, we added guys who kind of understood who and what we are. Drew’s even said one of the reasons he wanted to be here is because he already had an understanding of what our program’s about. He’s a local guy. I think we’re more talented this year. I wondered if we’d still have the same kind of team chemistry as last season, and we do. Our chemistry so far has been great. I have off the charts high expectations for the team.”
Maynard has contributed in several areas for the Warriors so far this season. He’s been one of the team’s best rebounders, he’s scoring in double figures, he runs the floor well and, because he commands the attention of the defense, he helps create good looks for the other guards. All of those things fit into Maynard’s simple goals for the season.
“Just win games and keep sticking by everyone,” he said. “This is a great group of people, great coaching staff and a great city to be playing in.”
“He has been an amazing addition to our program on and off the floor,” Pleasant said.
For more about Maynard, read Former Oakland Player Drew Maynard Transfers a Few Blocks From Oakland