PORTLAND — Concordia University men’s basketball coach Brad Barbarick did not have to look far to find a significant part of his team’s roster.
Just across the river.
Four of the Cavaliers’ top five scorers hail from Clark County. The top two were Prairie High School teammates.
Adam Herman, a 6-foot-7 forward who Barbarick called the team’s “super sophomore,” averages 19.6 points and 7.7 rebounds a game, leading the team in both categories.
The other former Falcon, 6-3 senior guard/forward Kevan West, in his third season with the program after a year in junior college, is second on the team at 14.2 points a game. He is also third in rebounding at 5.8 a game, and is the team’s leading shot blocker with 16 this season, an average of 0.7 a game.
Camas High School graduate Drew Preuninger, a 6-foot senior guard, averages 10.0 points a game and leads the team with 24 steals (1.0 a game).
Mountain View High School graduate Austin Dunn, a 6-3 fifth-year senior guard who played two seasons at Clackamas Community College and redshirted a season at Central Washington before joining the Cavaliers as a junior, averages 7.8 points a game despite being limited by an ankle injury.
They knew or at least knew of each other during their high school days.
Herman, Preuninger and West are now roommates, living near Concordia’s gym in northeast Portland.
“That’s pretty cool that we’re all from Vancouver, we’re all good friends and we live together,” Preuninger said. “And we’re all good friends with Austin, too, but he doesn’t live with us. Sometimes, we’ll kind of joke around. There was a point when all four of us were starting, so our team’s almost all Vancouver kids. It was kind of a joke between us all.
“I think it’s sweet that there’s more than just me. When I came here, I was pretty much the only Vancouver kid. Then Kevin came, then Austin and Adam. I knew these guys in high school. We all knew each other in high school, so it’s sweet that we’re all playing together.”
In his 17th season as head coach at Concordia, Barbarick has drawn on Clark County talent for years. As a coach and now executive director of the Les Schwab Roundball Shootout, an annual all-star event for the county’s high school seniors, he frequently sees what he is looking for.
“I’ve always felt that Vancouver and Clark County, specifically, at our level is under-recruited,” Barbarick said. “I think there are a lot of really, really good players in Southwest Washington who maybe don’t get recognition. I’ve had a bunch of Southwest Washington kids over the years. I love the kids who are over there, so it’s been really, really good. A third of my roster is Vancouver kids.”
Concordia is 13-10, 5-7 in Cascade Collegiate Conference play. Last Friday, the Cavaliers upset an Oregon Tech team that came to Portland ranked No. 1 in NAIA Division II.
The Concordia roster also includes 6-6 junior forward Ryan Miller, a Portland Christian High School graduate from Vancouver who is redshirting this season.
Drew Preuninger, Camas High School
The longest-tenured of the Clark County Cavaliers, Preuninger is second on Concordia’s career list with 190 3-pointers, 66 of them so far this season. He played in 13 games as a freshman and every game since, starting 56 of the team’s 83 games in the last 2 seasons. He is an academic All-American and a team co-captain.
“He’s a little bit undersized, but he has a great release,” Barbarick said. “He can shoot with the best of them. He’s one of the top 3-point shooters in our conference. He’s an awesome young man. … He’s a coach’s son, so he knows how to play.”
Preuninger, whose father Scott was his high school coach, said he is happy with his four years at Concordia.
“When I first got here, personally, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I was just happy to get the opportunity to play, and it’s actually turned out to be a really good career for me personally. I’ve had a lot of fun. This season has been especially fun, just because we have so many seniors and we’re doing better than we have in the past.”
Kevan West, Prairie High School
Barbarick has known West since he began attending the coach’s summer camp at age 7. That long-term relationship paid off when the player decided the junior college route was not for him and he was looking to return.
“I was happy to come back,” West said. “I was only at that junior college for one year. I wanted to come back to Portland. I was a little homesick. It was good to come back. It was a great opportunity for me.”
West has played in every game in his three seasons, starting 42 of 60 in his first two and every game this season.
“He’s having a tremendous senior year. He’s really talented. He jumps center for us at 6-3, and very rarely loses a tip. He has well over 40 inches on his vertical leap, and he’s really strong. He’s a phenomenal kid.”
West was CCC player of the week for Jan. 15-21 after scoring a career-high 27 points in an overtime loss to Warner Pacific. He followed that with a career-high 15 rebounds to go with 23 points in the win over OIT.
“Player-of-the-week was cool,” West said. “You don’t try to get stuff like that. You just try to play hard and go out and win. Obviously, it’s great to get recognition for that, but us having a successful season is more important than all of that.”
Austin Dunn, Mountain View High School
While it took Dunn three years to find his way to the Cavaliers, he was also originally recruited by Barbarick out of high school, and the coach was glad to land the player at last.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” Barbarick said of the combo guard he said can play the point or the wing equally well. “… He’s had some huge games for us. He’s been a starter. He’s got phenomenal heart.”
Dunn’s injured ankle will require reconstructive surgery after the season.
Until then, he is doing the best he can.
“It’s definitely been something I’ve had to overcome,” he said. “It’s just kind of nagging throughout the whole season. Anything small kind of flares it off. I’m just trying to make it through, being careful and taking it day to day.”
Adam Herman, Prairie High School
A First Team All-CCC selection as a freshman, Barbarick said the versatile Herman is a legitimate conference player of the year candidate as a sophomore.
In addition to CCC weekly honors, Herman was the NAIA-II national player of the week for Jan. 9-15. He leads all of NAIA-II with a .688 shooting percentage (176 of 256) and his 17th in scoring average.
“He is absolutely unbelievable,” Barbarick said. “He doesn’t take very many bad shots. Adam is a truly tough matchup. He’s just under 6-7. He’s very strong and extremely quick. He has a great first step.
“If he has a bigger guy on him, he takes him out the perimeter then blows by him. If it’s a guy the same size or maybe smaller, he takes him to the block and he can use his strength and quickness in the post. He’s very versatile. He doesn’t take bad shots. He plays within himself.”
Like his former Prairie teammate West, Herman said his honors during the season are nice — but not the point.
“It’s fun to get that individual award, but right now I’m focused — and we’re focused — on team stuff,” Herman said. “That’s a good thing to have, but we’re not focused on that.”
While he admits that the secret to his shooting percentage success has been because that versatility his coach discussed has resulted in shooting a lot of layups, he has had to adjust as opponents have concentrated on trying to stop him.
“Most of the time, I’m shooting layups,” Herman said. “But teams are starting to double me and not let me get the ball inside, so I’ve shot outside a little better the past few games.”
The Cavaliers are currently sixth in the conference standings. Eight of the 10 schools advance to the CCC tournament. The regular season and tournament champions earn automatic berths to NAIA-II nationals, or both tournament finalists if the regular-season champion reaches the championship game.
Concordia plays four of its six remaining regular season games on the road. The home games are Feb. 10 against Corban and Feb. 11 against Northwest Christian. As the season enters the homestretch, the Clark County quartet are enjoying their bond.
“It’s been fun, especially after competing against these guys for a long time — especially Kevan and Drew,” Dunn said. “I’ve known them for a long time growing up playing basketball, and it’s fun to play with them instead of against them.”