Men’s hoops transfer three on scholarship

May 6, 2016

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — When there was a rebound to be made, chances were Shawn Duhon, Jacob Traore or Henri Ventoniemi would be in the vicinity of the loose ball.

The trio accounted for nearly two-thirds of the Patriots’ rebounds per game this season and leave Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) with athletic scholarships, becoming the first wave of transfers for the 2016 class.

Traore heads to the University of Northwest Ohio (Lima, OH) of the NAIA Division I, Duhon remains close, playing for NCAA Division II Bluefield State College (Bluefield, W.Va.), while Ventoniemi travels south to join NCAA Division II University of West Florida (Pensacola, Fla.).

PHCC men’s basketball coach Kenny Wade said all three players were key figures for a Patriots team that went 22-6. He added that each student-athlete set a good example and represented the school well in the classroom and on the court.

Duhon was efficient on both sides of the ball, securing near double-double averages in points and rebounds. The 6-foot-4 forward possessed the flexibility and athletic ability to be used as a guard, said Wade. That unique skill set, which Wade added was a hot commodity, allowed Duhon to fill several statistical categories on a consistent basis, no matter the opponent.

“Any coach would love to have a player they can play in multiple roles, because you can change styles up throughout the game, and it’s hard to match up with that,” Wade said. “Everything was balanced with (Duhon), and all the way out, his stat line would give you X amount of points, X amount of rebounds, X amount of assists, and he was going to do it on a consistent basis.”

The sophomore said Bluefield State was the only school that showed serious interest in him, and were impressed with his 13-point, 7-rebound performance in a 73-70 win at home over rival Catawba Valley on Feb. 24. Duhon averaged over seven rebounds per game and displayed an aggressiveness that attracted Bluefield State. The Blues return a healthy group of juniors, but see All-American Mark Durgan graduate, who averaged 30 points per game his senior season.

Duhon said he looks to help fill that void.

“I’m very versatile and coach can play me different positions. I can do a little bit of everything,” Duhon said.

Traore joins the same program that former Patriot great and All-American Ed Jenkins attended and graduated from. Wade said he saw a big jump in the French native’s game and presented work ethic that helped produce a scholarship, something Traore said was a goal of his after graduating from PHCC. Traore increased his rebounding and scoring averages, posting a season-high 14 rebounds at Guilford Tech in a 77-73 win Dec. 9.

Wade said Traore’s skill set in the post makes him a valuable interior presence.

“All the schools are looking for that post guy and Northwest Ohio’s style of play is kind of like ours,” Wade said. “Jacob will probably be filling out a role similar to what he played here and will be big fit to their puzzle out there.”

The sophomore forward said his time at PHCC and playing in the Region X helped prepare him for what he expects to be a more physical brand of basketball. Northwest Ohio, Traore added, was attracted to his rebounding ability and interior defensive qualities. The 6-foot-8 forward looks to become a better scorer at his new school and improve upon his seven points per game average.

“The bodies at the next level are different and more physical. They’re stronger, taller, so I’m going to have to pick up my game, my speed, my strength, and my skills,” Traore said.

Ventoniemi said he looks forward to living in a warmer climate than he’s accustomed to in his native Finland. The freshman excelled in his lone season with the Patriots, averaging seven points and five rebounds per game. He presented opponents with several matchup issues around the basket. But it was Ventoniemi’s ability to step back and shoot from distance, Wade said, that allowed the Patriots to stretch defenses.

“Henri can handle the basketball if he needs to and can relieve the pressure off of some people if he has to,” Wade said. “But, the biggest thing is that he’ll be able to cause defenses problems because he can step out and shoot the 3 and knock that shot down. He can also put the ball on the floor and get to the rim.”

Ventoniemi was able to hit 50 percent of his limited 3-point attempts. At 6-foot-9, the forward has the size to create a variety of mismatches. Along with his ability to handle the ball and push the floor if needed, Wade expects Ventoniemi to continue to grow at the next level.

“I just need to get stronger and improve my skill game; stay on a routine and work hard. Use the weight room more and get more physical, because it’ll be a different game at a four-year school,” Ventoniemi said.

Filed under: Men's Basketball