The Bruins basketball teams celebrated their graduating seniors at their last regular season home games on Saturday, Feb. 22.
The men’s team honored five graduating players—Jayson Barnhart, Nate Ellenwood, Jon Allen, Cam McKennedy and Zachary Orr. The women’s team honored four senior players—Kylee Leffew, Rachel Clark, Madison Shupe and Jana Lehman. In addition, women’s team manager and senior Brianna Walker was also honored. Each player has a different story behind joining the Bruins teams.
Both Kylee Leffew, a middle school education major, and Rachel Clark, a biblical counseling major, attended the Bruins summer basketball camps in high school.
Coach LeViere offered a position to Clark during the camp but told Leffew that she was not yet playing at college level. However, after training during her junior and senior years of high school, Leffew made the team her freshman year, with LeViere telling her that he planned on taking her from the start but wanted to push her to her highest potential.
Zach Orr, a business administration major, played his first two seasons at Erskine College, but he said the college was not the best fit for him. After talking to Coach Uwarow, he transferred to BJU in the fall of 2018 and began playing for the Bruins.
The graduating seniors have experienced both wins and losses in their time on the Bruins teams.
The men’s best record came in the 2017-2018 season, ending 22-11 overall. The team won their second straight regional championship but fell to Randall University in the NCCAA DII national championship. The women’s best season was last year, as they finished with a 14-16 record overall and a 7-2 conference record.
Reflecting on the ups and downs of her college career, Leffew said she has learned perseverance. “Losing is hard, and not winning regionals and nationals is hard and having a bad game personally is hard,” she said. “However, I have to learn from my mistakes and move on—the same goes for life.”
Nate Ellenwood, a sport management major, has also experienced victories and defeats in his time playing for the Bruins. Ellenwood, one of the team’s leading scorers and the Most Outstanding Player in the 2017-18 season, sat out his junior year after tearing his Achilles on a mission trip to Ireland with the golf team.
After coming back from injury, Ellenwood has remained a consistent starter for the team this season and has scored more than 300 points. Ellenwood said his basketball career has taught him the importance of friendships, especially after the injury his junior year.
“My teammates have become some of my greatest friends,” he said. “I was also able to meet my girlfriend through my time on the Bruins.”
Jayson Barnhart, a graduate student studying sports administration and coaching, became the all-time leading scorer in the men’s basketball team history on Feb. 8, when he scored his 1,618th point. According to Bruins head coach Burton Uwarow, Barnhart has been a leader for the team throughout his entire career.