With Binghamton athletics all but ending for the 2020-2021 academic year, here’s a look at five athletes to look out for heading into the fall and winter season:
Wrestling: Lou DePrez
Redshirt junior Lou DePrez has posted a 96-19 career record thus far at BU. This currently stands as the best in the program’s history both in winning percentage and total wins. DePrez was the New York state champion at Hilton High School three years in a row before taking his talents to the collegiate level. In his freshman year, he posted a 28-4 record and individually achieved a second-place finish at the BU Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open. In his second year of competition, DePrez posted a 33-7 record and advanced to day two of the NCAA Championships, ultimately posting a 3-2 record at the tournament. DePrez also had three third-place finishes in national and league-wide tournaments.
In his redshirt sophomore year, he became Binghamton wrestling’s first All-American since 2012. He ended his season with a 26-5 record while winning the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) championship as BU’s second-ever victor at the meet. Although the NCAA canceled its 2020 championships, DePrez finished the season ranked fifth in the nation by InterMat Wrestling. This past season, DePrez became the first two-time All-American in program history, while being ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation. DePrez also won the EIWA championship for the second time in as many years. In a shortened season, DePrez posted a 10-3 record and placed eighth at the 2021 NCAA championships. If DePrez can replicate his consistency on the mat, he may have shot at a national title heading into next winter.
Women’s Cross Country: Emily Mackay
Redshirt senior Emily Mackay had an incredibly decorated senior year. Mackay recently became the first BU women’s cross country runner to be selected as an All-American after placing 14th at the 2021 NCAA championships. This cross-country season, she was also named the Northeast Region Female Runner of the Year and won the America East (AE) individual title. Mackay is now the school record holder in the mile, 1500-meters and 5000-meters while also being a member of the record-breaking 4×800 relay team. On May 27 at the NCAA East Regional Meet, Mackay finished third with a time of 15:48.72, nearly breaking her own school record in the 5000-meter event.
Mackay started her career at Oregon State but decided to return home after redshirting her freshman year. Since then, she has improved steadily after battling injury for much of her collegiate career leading up to 2021. In her junior year, Mackay placed 38th at the AE conference meet and returned the following year to take the title. Mackay will likely be the runner to beat next season in AE competition.
Women’s Basketball: Denai Bowman
Sophomore guard Denai Bowman started in all 16 of Binghamton’s games last season. As a sophomore, Bowman was named first-team all-conference and was selected to the America East All-Defensive Team. Bowman led BU in scoring with 12.9 points per game, good enough for fourth in the AE. She was also fourth in steals per game in the AE with 2.0 per game. In Bowman’s freshman year, despite only starting five of Binghamton’s 31 games, she was fourth on the team in scoring with 6.6 points per game. Bowman’s play has been promising for BU, but what’s most encouraging is her growth from freshman to sophomore year.
Despite only playing 10 more minutes per game in year two, Bowman nearly doubled her points and rebounds per game without sacrificing efficiency. Her .409 field goal percentage was ninth in the conference. In the last game of the season, Bowman gave a preview of what fans can expect next year, scoring 21 points and recording 13 rebounds and four steals in BU’s win against Albany. Bowman is a serious candidate for AE player of the year if she can continue to build from her first two years. With the extension of head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord, women’s basketball has a bright future led by Bowman.
Men’s Basketball: George Tinsley
After Binghamton’s two leading scorers had transferred in consecutive seasons, all eyes have been placed on junior forward George Tinsley. As a freshman, Tinsley was second in the nation in minutes per game, with over 38 per game. Tinsley has started all 46 games he’s played at Binghamton and has been a mainstay for the Bearcats the past two seasons. In his freshman year, he was named AE Rookie of the Year posting 11.6 points per game to lead all AE rookies and 7.4 rebounds per game. In a shortened season, Tinsley’s stats regressed a bit, averaging 8.5 and 6.6. However, he played about five fewer minutes a game.
After the departure of head coach Tommy Dempsey, expectations have shifted for the Bearcats. Tinsley is one of four players on the team who began their careers at BU. Of these four, Tinsley has been the most decorated and has had the biggest role. Now under the leadership of interim head coach Levell Sanders, Tinsley will play a bigger leadership role with the Bearcats heading into the 2021-22 season. BU has not won an AE playoff game since the 2018-19 season and missed it entirely in 2020.
Women’s Soccer: Olivia McKnight
In her sophomore season, midfielder Olivia McKnight was the only AE underclassmen field player selected to the first-team all-conference. Last season, the Binghamton women’s soccer team tallied a 6-2 overall record, a 4-1 conference record and advanced to the AE championship final. During the playoffs, McKnight was awarded an AE All-Championship Team selection. McKnight was a major contributor for the Bearcats as she averaged .86 points per game, good enough for seventh in the conference. Her six points were also a team-high. McKnight has played and started in every game of her collegiate career. McKnight had a career game late last season with a five-point performance against NJIT with two goals and one assist in the 4-1 victory.
McKnight played the fifth-most minutes on the team with a total of 569 minutes last year, averaging 81 per game. She also led the team with 17 shots and 11 shots on goal. Only halfway through her collegiate career, McKnight has been successful and with a great team record last season. Following the departure of the team’s veteran senior class last season, McKnight will play a bigger role in replicating last season’s success on the pitch.