Former division I guard leads evolving offense

The Gannon University men’s basketball team has operated in a manner reminiscent of a revolving door this season, rotating players in and out in the hopes of finding what lineup gives the Knights the best chance of winning.

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(Gannonsports.com) Redshirt freshman Kelvin Agee

It is then ironic that the player who has spent the most time on the floor for Gannon was donning the colors of another college just months ago.

Redshirt freshman Kelvin Agee is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 15 points per game, and has started every game while providing stability to an otherwise erratic team.

“He’s rebounded for us and done a number of other things,” Gannon coach John T. Reilly said. “Like any of our players, he’s learning a lot about basketball and college life in general.”

In a relatively short time, Agee has found a home at Gannon on and off the court.

“It’s been a great experience. I’ve adapted to Erie and Gannon,” Agee said. “It’s great being a part of the tradition and there has been great support from the fans.”

It’s a tradition Agee said he didn’t feel all that vested in during his year as a St. Bonaventure University Bonnie.

For starters, Agee said that he and the coaches weren’t on the same page.

“I didn’t really know my role as a redshirt,” he said. “The coaches thought I wasn’t working. I guess one of the lessons is that you’ve got to make it known that you’re giving it your all.”

Rated a two-star prospect by recruiting service Scout.com, Agee had to make the St. Bonaventure team as a walk-on. Although he was not given a full scholarship at St. Bonaventure, Gannon was willing to offer him one.

Agee was an all-state guard at Niagara Falls High School in Niagara Falls, N.Y. In his senior season, Agee averaged 22.8 points along with 7.8 rebounds leading the Wolverines to a 24-1 record in 2008-09.

The 6-foot-2 guard was the latest in a long line of talented players making their way out of Niagara Falls, following former Syracuse University guard Jonny Flynn, who currently plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, as well as recent Super Bowl-winning Green Bay Packers rookie James Starks.

The most beneficial association for Agee, however, proved to be former Gannon star Demondi Johnson, who played for the Knights from 2002-2006.

Johnson lives around the corner in Niagara Falls and worked as a personal adviser during Agee’s trying times.

“When I decided to leave (St. Bonaventure), I had a lot of talks with Mondi,” Agee said. “We had a one-on-one where he just told me that I have to do what’s best for me.”

Johnson joined up with current Niagara Falls coach Sal Constantino to work as a liaison on Agee’s behalf.

“We first got knowledge of Kelvin from Sal, who I’m good friends with,” Reilly said. “We talked and he came down for a visit in spring. Sal then helped us again when Kelvin was leaving St. Bonaventure.”

Agee said his relationship with Constantino has been influential in his collegiate journey.

“Sal was with me through the whole process, telling me what options I had. He was kind of like my agent.”

When Agee realized St. Bonaventure wasn’t a fit, he first called his mother and proceeded to phone Constantino, who laid out potential suitors. Constantino helped Agee narrow a list of schools down to Gannon, Niagara, University of Buffalo and several junior colleges among others.

An appealing feature at Gannon for Agee was a Division II rule which states that student-athletes do not lose a year of eligibility upon transferring. In contrast, had he gone to another Division I program, Agee would have had to sit out another year and be left with just three years of eligibility.

Another factor working in the Knights’ favor was the proximity Agee would have to his family and 1-year-old son, Kayvon, who enjoys watching his dad on the hardwood.

“He’s been to a few games,” Agee said. “He’s getting the hang of it and is starting to understand.”

Agee said he hopes his son follows in his basketball footsteps and picks up the game when he’s older.

For the near future, however, the sky is the limit for the Agee, said teammate Steve Piotrowicz, who transferred from Penn State Behrend after his freshman year.

“A lot of people put tags or standards with players coming out of D-I, but with Kelvin, he’s better offensively than I expected,” he said. “If he keeps working hard, he has the talent to play after college.”

JOE CUNEO

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