UMass’ new walk-on guards Rayshawn Miller and Chris Lydon eager to help out



Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2016

AMHERST — The UMass men’s basketball team’s newest walk-ons Chris Lydon and Rayshawn Miller will make their Mullins Center debuts Saturday in the Minutemen’s noon game vs. Saint Louis.

The guards won’t likely play unless the score is lopsided late in the game, but coach Derek Kellogg has been pleased with the performance in practice.

“They’re doing a good job,” Kellogg said. “We can have two five-man teams in practice now, which is good. They’ve been a good addition. There’s a chance they may play at some point depending on how things go and how they practice.”

Both players began the season as managers, following in the footsteps of Matt Pennie and Tim Collins, who both went from manager to team member.

“The biggest thing is their relationships with guys on the team,” Kellogg said. “They fit in immediately. They’ve been around practice and rebound for the guys. If you have a decent basketball mind and you watch practice every day you can kind of understand what we’re trying to do. They’ve picked it up pretty quickly.”

Miller is a 6-foot-1, 185-pound freshman who scored 1,000 points at Boston Latin Academy. The engineering major had opportunities to play Division II or III basketball, but UMass made the most sense academically and financially.

He followed college basketball in general and was a Chaz Williams fan in high school. When he arrived on campus, he approached assistant coach Adam Ginsburg about walking on. Ginsburg said the team wasn’t looking for extra players at the time, but suggested being a manager, which would help his chances if that situation changed.

When Miller was told there might be a tryout, he and a friend worked out every day to get ready and performed well enough to get a roster spot.

“It’s been kind of unreal to be honest,” said Miller, who often works out and shoots in the practice facility between classes.

He said he’s approaching things like he needs to keep his spot. “Be here early. Work hard. I have to work harder than everyone else just to stay around.”

Lydon, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior, attended UMass-Lowell for two years but did not play basketball. He transferred to UMass in September 2014. He’s been a gym rat at the school’s rec center since he arrived on campus and became a manager this season.

“It’s been pretty fantastic. As a manager you just want to be around the game, but to get a jersey and be on the official roster, you can’t ask for much more,” said Lydon, a Boston native who interned at Boston’s The Sports Hub radio station on the midday Zolak & Bertrand Show. “I used to play down at the rec center late at night. I’d look down at the Mullins Center and think ‘hopefully one day’. This year is that day I guess.”

He said he wants to reward the coaching staff for adding him.

“I don’t want to let these guys down. I want them to feel like they made the right decision,” he said. “I’m going to come in and bust my butt.”

Lydon is hoping to get into college coaching after graduation.

Kellogg thinks he’s got a chance to get there.

“Chris has a good basketball mind. He’s picked up on stuff pretty quickly,” Kellogg said. “There’s no better substitute than being on the team and actually playing.”









Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage


 


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