MARQUETTE, Mich. -- Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team opens the 2017-18 season this weekend with two games as part of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference/Great Lakes Valley Conference Challenge, hosted by Michigan Technological University.
On Saturday, the Wildcats take on Lewis University at 8 p.m and features audio and live stats. NMU returns to take on University of Wisconsin Parkside on Sunday. Sunday's game will also feature audio and live stats.
Preseason Recognition: -- Junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) was named to the Preseason All-GLIAC Team. Echols returns to the Wildcats after leading NMU with 17.6 points a game, shooting 48 percent from the field, and 42 percent from the three-point line. He also finished fourth in the GLIAC from the free-throw line, shooting 88 percent on the season.
Returning Depth: Seven of the team's top players from last year are returning for this season. In addition to Echols, sophomore Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Thornton), senior Jordan Perez (Greendale, Wisc.), junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.), sophomore Marcus Matelski (Boyne Falls, Mich.) and sophomore Myles Howard (Chicago, Ill./Marian Catholic) return after logging significant minutes last season. Sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) also returns after making eight starts in ten games before losing the remainder of the season to illness. Sophomore Ian Hodges (Flint, Mich./Holly) returns for his sophomore season and will seek an expanded role after averaging eight minutes in 23 games last season.
Perez leads the way: Perez enters the season as the lone returning senior and will be looked upon to provide leadership. Last season, he finished second on the team with 12.3 points a game and 2.2 assists per game.
The man in the middle: Howard returns for his sophomore season looking to make a larger impact inside. During his freshman campaign, he started six games while averaging nearly 18 minutes a game. With a season of experience, his role appears to be expanded to provide more scoring and rebounding inside for the Wildcats.
Impact Transfers: Junior transfer Max Prendergast (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids West Catholic/Grand Rapids CC) and senior transfer Eddie Tornes (Muskegon, Mich./Cumberland CC) joins the Wildcats after gaining experience at the junior college level. Prendergast comes in looking to add more depth to the low post. Torres joins a talented group of perimeter players and will provide more experience and size to the guard position.
New Faces: The Wildcats welcome six freshmen to the team this season, Carson Wonders (Iron Mountain, Mich.), Marcus Krachinski (Powers, Mich./North Central), Anthony Bethea (Muskegon, Mich.), Dolapo Olayinka (Chicago, Ill./Mather), Alec Fruin (Beloit, Wisc./Turner) and Troy Summers (Grayling, Mich.)
NMU versus Lewis: The Wildcats are 1-5 against the Flyers, with their lone win coming in the 1998-99 NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional Tournament. NMU last played Lewis in the 2014-15 season as part of the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge. The Flyers went 19-13 last season, ending their season with a GLVC Championship defeat to Bellarmine University.
NMU versus UW Parkside: NMU holds a 20-10 advantage over the Rangers and won last season's matchup 97-75 in the opener of the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge. UW Parkside finished 2016-17 22-8, dropping their last two games of the season to Bellarmine, losing in the GLVC Tournmament Semifinals and again in the first game of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional.