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The Vermont Cynic

Senior Catamounts take a bow

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With the season over, three men’s basketball players have played their last game in green and gold. The class of 2017 consists of two four-year seniors, as well as a transfer who joined the team as a junior. The four-year seniors compiled a career record of 94-45.

Kurt Steidl

Though his career didn’t end the way he wanted to, Steidl put together a solid four-year campaign at UVM as a reliable all-around player.

The guard/forward from Ridgefield, Conn. made an instant impact at UVM, earning a spot on the America East All-Rookie Team his first season after setting a program record by shooting 48.8 percent from three, a sign of things to come.

Steidl shot 39.6 percent from the beyond the arc in his career, the second-best percentage in program history, according to UVM athletics.

He was also reliable from the free throw line, with his 81.1 percent success rate clocking in at eighth in UVM history.

Steidl also provided leadership, serving as co-captain for his junior and senior seasons, and perimeter defense.

He finished his career as the 28th member of UVM’s 500-point 500-rebound club, grabbing his 500th career rebound Feb. 15 against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.

“It’s a great individual accomplishment,” Steidl said. “I’m really proud that I was able to do that this year and put my name in the record books with some really good players.”

His future plans are still up in the air.

Steidl tore his anterior cruciate ligament during UVM’s 80-70 loss to Purdue University in the NCAA Tournament, and said the injury “puts in a little question mark.”

Dre Wills

Under head coach John Becker, Vermont basketball has used defense as its calling card. No player exemplified UVM’s commitment to defense better than Dre Wills.

The Indianapolis native was named to three consecutive America East All-Defensive Teams in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and was named this year’s America East Defensive Player of the Year.

The guard cited his mental and physical attributes as a reason for his success on defense.

“I have a good awareness on that side of the ball, and my athleticism helps as well,” Wills said.

Wills would often defend against the opponent’s top perimeter threats, but was not a defense-only one-trick pony.

His career 60 percent field goal percentage ranks second in UVM history, according to UVM athletics. This can be attributed to his willingness to attack the rim for easy baskets.

Wills will try to play professionally overseas, Wills said.

Darren Payen

For Darren Payen, it feels like his Vermont career just started. The forward transferred from Hofstra University after his sophomore year, and sat out a year due to NCAA rules.

“The first year that I came here that I wasn’t allowed to play was the longest year of my life,” Payen said.

After starting 25 of 37 games during his first season at UVM, Payen spent his senior campaign coming off the bench, starting just one game.

The forward embraced the role, and earned America East Sixth Man of the Year, posting a program record 70.1 percent field goal percentage in the process.

“It could have kept me down,” Payen said. “But I think I was able to take that role and use it more to help my team win games.”

Payen is undecided on his future.

“I’m teeter-tottering between trying to play overseas and going to grad school,” he said.

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Senior Catamounts take a bow”

  1. Barry Stone on April 6th, 2017 6:20 pm

    Didn’t Kurt Steidl score 1000 points?

    [Reply]

    Locria Reply:

    He did, but only the 500 point-500 rebound club is listed on the UVM athletics site and I don’t trust my counting ability to figure out 1000-500

    [Reply]

  2. Tom Zenaty on April 6th, 2017 10:27 pm

    These three guys were such a pleasure to watch.

    Kurt – you were so unstated in your style and I love that. Extremely hard-working, really smart player, really tough defensively, beautiful shot. I got to speak a few times with your folks and came to sense what a solid player and person you are. Thanks for all you have done, Kurt! And best wishes in the future, wherever the path may lead.

    Darren….that you stepped SO big SO many times and were willing as a senior to jump into your role as the first big off the bench was really impressive. It seemed like your mid-range jumper could always be counted on, your D really stepped up this past year. I am so glad you chose to come to VT. We are better for it, man. Good luck to you in your pursuits.

    Dre….I feel like I know you well somehow, because I just frigging loved your intensity, be it on the court, cheering the team or serving as interviewer extraordinaire post game. I do believe you were such a force defensively that you intimidated your opponents. Will Brown’s comments about your abilities in the paint speaks volumes of your multi-dimensional contributions. You simply should NOT have been able to do the shit you did amongst the bigs!

    Thank you to the three of you for bringing such excitement to the team, to the community, to your teammates. You will be missed.

    Tom Zenaty

    [Reply]

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The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883
Senior Catamounts take a bow