Sports With Shook: Three unique paths meet on Senior Night at M.A.C. Center



Nick Shook

Nick Shook

Nick Shook is a junior news major, sports columnist and the sports editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Kent State’s game against Bowling Green will be the final home contest at the Memorial Athletic Convocation Center for three senior Flashes.

Three very different paths led those same three seniors to Tuesday night.

Randal Holt is the only one of the trio to spend all four years of his collegiate career at Kent State. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard from Cleveland Glenville High School signed with the Flashes directly out of high school and has impacted the team since he arrived in 2009.

Holt got the most out of the college experience, at least on the court, breaking the school’s all-time 3-point field goal record on Feb. 3 against Eastern Michigan. Holt’s 211th career 3-pointer passed Kent State legend Trevor Huffman on the all-time list, and after a week in which he went 11-of-18 from deep, his career total currently stands at 234, well out of reach of the next closest contender on the list.

A career 35.9 percent shooter from beyond the arc, Holt is averaging 14.4 points per game just more than eight months after successfully undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. He will take the floor at the M.A.C. Center one last time looking to send the fans home happy with another impressive performance.

Holt will make his 88th start in his 130th career game Tuesday night alongside another senior who, unlike Holt, will be making his first career start.

Brian Frank will hear his name in the starting lineup for the first time since he arrived at Kent State in 2010. The 6-foot-5 walk-on forward has heard his name called out in the M.A.C. Center — and at plenty of opposing arenas, too — but never before tip-off.

Frank is the favorite son of Kent State’s dedicated student section, nicknamed “The Krew,” but instead of hearing the usual “we want Frank” chants that typically come at the end of a Flashes’ blowout victory, he will instead hear his name called over the public address system during introductions. It’s an honor that he was pleasantly surprised to learn about in the fall, and it is a decision head coach Rob Senderoff said would not change no matter the circumstances.

Frank’s single-game high in points is three — a lone 3-pointer that he splashed at the end of a big Flashes’ win over Northern Illinois in 2011-12. His career average minutes played are 1.5 per game. But Frank’s value to the team has extended far beyond the court; numbers haven’t defined the Flashes’ walk-on, and that is not about to change any time soon.

A native of Clearwater, Fla., Frank transferred to Kent State after spending a year at the nearby College of Wooster. He didn’t even plan on initially playing for the Flashes, but after a suggestion by then-head coach Geno Ford, Frank joined the team. He learned after a season or two what his role would be on the team, and he has thrived in it, serving as the workhorse substitute in practice and one of the loudest supporters of his teammates at games.

Chris Evans also transferred to Kent State, but only after he flirted with the potential of becoming a Golden Flash while in high school before ultimately choosing to play elsewhere. Evans came to Kent State in 2011 by way of Wabash Valley Community College in Illinois, and in one calendar year has gone from the Flashes’ best option off the bench to the team’s go-to player.

The 6-foot-8 forward, best known across the MAC for his high-flying, acrobatic drives and dunks, has matured from one of the conference’s best sixth man to a bona fide contender for the conference’s player of the year award. Last week, he narrowly missed out on advancing in State Farm’s national voting poll for a college slam dunk contest. But despite his flashy leaping and dunking ability, it was a layup that epitomized Evans’ progression from quiet newcomer to confident leader in one final play in Wednesday’s overtime victory over Buffalo.

Evans grabbed a rebound with less than 20 seconds left in the extra period, walked the ball up the court, dribbled out much of the remaining time and took an isolation drive into the heart of the Bulls’ defense. He lofted a shot over the outstretched arms of three defenders, off the glass and through the hoop as the buzzer sounded and his teammates mobbed him at half court.

It was a sweet ending for a group that has been on the losing end of too many close games this season.

Evans, who is averaging 17 points per game, has helped spark a Kent State team that has left many perplexed by its play this season, but appears to be hitting its stride at just the right time, winning three straight and five of its last six games.

Tuesday night, those same Flashes, led by their trio of seniors, will take the parquet floor at the M.A.C. Center for one final time with the same objective on their mind:

Keep on winning.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].