Lions men’s hoops recruiting U.P. talent

When Mike O’Donnell took over the Finlandia men’s basketball team in April, he wanted to keep the best U.P. high school basketball players in the U.P. Two months later, O’Donnell is off to a great start.

Negaunee guard Eric Lori, Gwinn forward Justin Nyquist and Escanaba forward Brandon Robinette have all committed to play for O’Donnell at Finlandia. All three players were on the same court on Saturday at the All–Star Classic Basketball Game in St. Ignace. Lori, Nyquist, and Robinette are all on board with turning the Lions program back in the right direction.

“I’m looking forward to just getting up there with the guys,” said Lori. “We’ve been playing in open gyms and it seems like we click pretty well, so that’s a good thing.”

“It’s going to be great. These guys are awesome,” said Nyquist. He is joining the Lions after a successful varsity career at Gwinn. “I’m just excited to go play at Finlandia,” Nyquist went on to say.

“We just play all of the time,” said Robinette. “We go to open gyms in Houghton and it’s the start of something good.”

For Coach O’Donnell, getting off to a running start on the recruiting trail has been a success in more ways than one.

“It was crucial to get these guys on board early,” said O’Donnell. “They talk to a lot of kids, people know their names around the U.P. and around the state. These guys have been good recruiters themselves. They’ve gone out and talked to kids. Just by word of mouth, good things are spreading about Finlandia basketball.

The Lions men’s and women’s basketball teams will both join the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.