By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – One of the most impressive seasons on the local college basketball scene is being put together by Division III Neumann University forward Mark Blount.
The 6’6″ senior, from William Penn High School in Philadelphia, is averaging a double-double for the Knights. He pours in 16.1 points a game while pulling down a Colonial States Athletic Conference leading 11.2 rebounds a game. He also paces the CSAC in blocks, averaging more than three swats a contest.
But Blount says he measures success in more than statistics.
“Being a senior and all, I just think the fun is just the team coming together,” Blount tells KYW Newsradio. “I just think it’s fun, because my last year, coming out and seeing my family and friends at every home game and some of the support coming to the away games. It’s a great environment to be around, the team and the coaches.”
The Knights have put together a 16-8 record (11-6 in the CSAC) as they prepare to play their final game of the regular season on Wednesday night on the road at Baptist Bible College. First-year Neumann head coach Jim Rullo says Blount is a big reason why the Knights are where they are.
“What he brings to us is just a stability, both on the offensive and defensive end of the floor,” Rullo tells KYW Newsradio. “From a defensive standpoint, just being a presence with the blocked shots and securing those rebounds. But on the offensive end of the floor, he’s kind of improved his game, not only back to the basket, but also stepping out and facing up and going off the dribble a little bit more. He just gives us a dimension that not a lot of teams at this level have.”
Blount’s scoring average has increased every year since he arrived on campus and he agrees that he’s evolved on that end of the floor.
“I think I had to grow more (on that end),” Blount says. “Trying to better my outside range, so I went from shooting no threes at all my freshman year to stepping out in the midrange and the threes, to make it tougher for the opponent to try and stick me because you don’t know what’s going to come next.”
Blount also knows his defensive success can lead to easy offense.
“My defense,” Blount says. “If I (make) a good play, block shots, get a rebound, that sends the team on an offensive break. It revs up the team, so we can score off my defensive presence.”
Rullo breaks down Blount’s post presence.
“Mark is just a very super-athletic forward at this level,” Rullo says. “Jumps out of the gym, has a knack for rebounding in the sense of just anticipating where the ball’s going and then he has an internal drive that just goes and gets it.”
Neumann has just the one regular season game remaining, but they have qualified for the conference tournament, so there is more basketball to be played, and Blount is making sure he savors the time he has left on the court.
“I’m going to miss it a lot,” Blount says. “Because you can’t get this back so you cherish every moment. I’ve cherished it since freshman year and that’s how it is.”
Neumann’s game with Baptist Bible on Wednesday tips-off at 8:00pm.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.