From the Minors to Senior Day

by Bob Fisch

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 · Season 9
TMM-3498 · 696 words · 3 min read

Game #9-478: Army Black Knights at American Eagles

February 23, 2013 2:00 pm
Bender Arena
As is a tradition every year, the final home game of the season for every team is devoted to honoring their seniors. Before the game (or after, as is the case in some schools, like Indiana), the team's seniors are called out one by one, typically escorted by their parents, and receive an ovation and a memento for their years of service to their respective schools. As was the case before American University's final home game against Army, six seniors were honored.

The senior least likely to be in the gym at that moment was forward Stephen Lumpkins. I've been intrigued by his story all season, and given a recent article in the Washington Post about him (and his season being officially over as of this being written, therefore me not being able to attend any more AU games), now is the best time to tell it. Lumpkins came to American in the 2008-2009 season, and was part of the team that won the Patriot League Championship. The team didn't make it back to the league championship in either of the next two years, while playing baseball one summer Lumpkins learned that he could still throw a baseball 90 miles per hour. The number of people that can do that is incredibly small, and baseball scouts started to take notice, despite American University not having a varsity baseball team. He began to play in summer collegiate baseball leagues, and following his junior year, where American lost a heartbreaker to Lafayette in the conference semifinals, he was drafted in the 11th round by the Kansas City Royals, complete with a $150,000 signing bonus. I can't think of too many people that would pass up that kind of money or opportunity. Lumpkins did not, and was assigned to the Arizona Rookie League. Once there, he struggled, posing a 19.64 ERA in 3 2/3 innings pitched. With those statistics in the lowest level in the minors, it is understandable why one might second-guess his decision. After giving it some thought, he decided to return to school and to basketball, and reached out to one of the AU assistant coaches about returning. After some conversations with head coach Jeff Jones, he was welcomed back.

It's easy to wonder what would have happened to American's team last season had Lumpkins stayed. During the 2011-2012 campaign, American finished third in the Patriot League, won 21 games, including victories both Bucknell and Lehigh. Plug Lumpkins into that equation, and Lehigh's upset over Duke might never have happened. If anything, the Patriot League Tournament might have been a little more interesting. This season, Lumpkins is averaging 14.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. On his senior day, he finished with 10 points in a losing effort. The Eagles struggled all year, winning only 10 games in Jeff Jones' worst season at the university since taking over as head coach. But for Lumpkins, it is the chance to play one final season of the game that he loves. And I am sure it will be a season he never forgets.


ARMY 14-13 (7-5) -- E. Ellis 5-9 1-2 15; K. Wilson 5-11 2-2 14; K. Toth 4-9 0-0 11; D. Cox 2-3 2-2 6; J. Springer 2-2 0-0 4; L. Toomey 2-3 0-0 4; K. Ferguson 1-6 2-2 4; M. Lenox 1-1 0-0 2; J. Herbeck 4-5 0-0 12; A. Stire 0-1 0-0 0; T. Plomb 0-0 0-0 0; M. Gramling 0-1 0-0 0; C. Kincade 0-0 0-0 0; M. Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-51 7-8 72.
AMERICAN 10-17 (5-7) -- J. Schoof 3-5 0-0 9; D. Munoz 2-11 4-4 8; S. Lumpkins 5-11 0-0 10; B. Jolivette 5-8 0-0 11; M. Bersch 3-6 0-0 9; T. Wroblicky 2-4 1-2 5; A. Carroll 1-2 0-0 3; J. Reed 1-2 0-0 3; W. Flood Jr. 0-0 0-0 0; K. Kager 0-0 0-0 0; D. Fisher 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-49 5-6 58.

Three-point goals: ARMY 13-24 (E. Ellis 4-7; J. Herbeck 4-5; M. Gramling 0-1; L. Toomey 0-1; K. Toth 3-7; K. Wilson 2-3), AMER 9-18 (M. Bersch 3-5; B. Jolivette 1-1; A. Carroll 1-2; D. Munoz 0-6; J. Schoof 3-3; J. Reed 1-1); Rebounds: ARMY 23 (J. Springer 5), AMER 27 (T. Wroblicky 7); Assists: ARMY 19 (D. Cox 4), AMER 15 (D. Munoz 8); Total Fouls -- ARMY 13, AMER 11; Fouled Out: ARMY-None; AMER-None.