Despite an above average year on the court, many critics of Washburn’s men’s basketball team believe that coach Bob Chipman and his staff failed in maximizing the potential of the crop of players that had been brought together at the beginning of the season.
At the helm of Chipman’s squad were a group of five very talented seniors who, upon coming into their final season as Ichabods, hoped to make a splash in the conference and restore Washburn’s place atop the MIAA conference.
Forward Paul Byers, from Beattie, is the lone senior to play four years under Chipman. For his career, Byers averaged 7.4 points per game, and is third on the all-time blocked shots list with 81, seventh in games started with 91 and seventh in minutes played with 2,559.
“I had a good time playing here at Washburn,” said Byers. “My biggest regret would just be not winning the conference. That was always a goal we had.”
James Williams, from Topeka, played the first two years of his college career at Cloud County Community College, where he averaged 10 points per game. His basketball journey then took him to St. Bonaventure where, after a short stint as a Bonnie, he came back to his hometown to play for the Ichabods. For his career, Williams is ranked eighth in assist average with 2.8 per game, and is No. 11 all time in steals averaging 1.1 per game.
Lekheythan Malone and DeAndre Eggins, both senior transfers from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, made significant contributions in their year with the team.
Malone, a Dallas native, averaged close to 8 points per game in his three years at UALR and was named Sun Belt Freshman of the Year in his 2005-2006 campaign. His Washburn career wasn’t too shabby either, as he was named to the MIAA honorable mention team, averaging 11.7 points per game. Malone ended his run as an Ichabod No. 11 in minutes averaged at 26.9 per game.
Eggins’ 3-year run with the Trojans of UALR, he averaged just over eight points per game and led the team in 3-point percentage as a freshman. At Washburn, Eggins’ scoring average improved to 16 points per game. He ends his career fourth in minutes averaged, fifth in the conference in scoring and took home all-MIAA second team honors.
Last but not least of the senior class is Darnell Kimble. Kimble, who stands at 6′ 8″, 230 pounds is what in basketball vernacular is referred to as a “beast.” Kimble, from Buffalo, New York, played for two years at Brown Mackie Community College, averaging more than 16 points per game as a sophomore and leading the team to a 23-8 record. Kimble climbed into the top 10 of the all-time in career blocked shot list at Washburn, and fourth in blocked shots average with one per game. Kimble was dismissed from the team prior to the conference tournament, but finished fourth in the MIAA in blocked shots average and ninth in rebounding.
“I felt like we had a pretty good team,” Byers said. “We had some down seasons earlier in my time here, so it was good to bounce back from those and start getting the team back on track.”
With such a talented and accomplished set of basketball players going through the door, the word rebuilding does not do justice to the task that the Chipman-led coaching staff is faced with for the ’09-’10 season. The seniors this year were invaluable to the Ichabods, and their impact on the team will be sorely missed and virtually irreplaceable.
Most notable of the Washburn recruits for the upcoming season is Bobby Chipman, son of head coach Bob Chipman. As he grows in his 6′ 8″ frame, Bobby looks to be an integral part of his father’s rotation straight out of the gate, and if the recruiting class is anything like the one brought in after last season, Bobby and the Bods are poised to start what should be a resurgence of Washburn’s rich basketball heritage.