La Salle College HS senior Shane Stark (above) will continue his playing and academic career at Ursinus. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Teddy Bailey (@TheTeddyBailey)
La Salle College High School is off to an 8-0 start after defeating Archbishop Ryan in its Catholic League opener. The hot start is due to an unselfish team, highlighted by an upperclassmen lineup of Jarrod Stukes, Ryan McTamney, Dan Remolde, Matt Paulus and Shane Stark.
Stark, however, will be playing much more relaxed as the Explorers chase a Catholic League title later this year. The 6-foot-6 senior forward officially committed to Division III Ursinus College on Friday.
Stark chose Ursinus over D-IIs Kutztown, Scranton and East Stroudsburg, as well as D-III Arcadia.
“The thing that separated Ursinus was their coaches and players,” Stark said. “I visited twice and stayed overnight. The players welcomed me and I already felt like I was one of the guys. The coaching staff always gave me handshakes and felt excited to see me. I felt like they were the ones that wanted me the most.”
Ursinus finished 10-15 in last season’s campaign despite posting an 8-4 record at home in Collegeville, Pa. The Bears, who have just two seniors on this year’s roster, are currently 2-5 in 2015-2016, but recently gave Penn a tough test at The Palestra. Ursinus lost, 73-66 last Saturday night.
“It was so cool,” Stark said of Ursinus’ near-upset of the Quakers. “You can see that they’re a program on the rise if they’re sticking with a Division-I team.”
Stark, whose 6-foot-6 frame gives him versatility in his position, said that UC head coach Kevin Small sees him as a stretch-'4'. Stark prides himself in playing strong down low as well as around the perimeter.
As far as his playing time goes, Stark is optimistic that he will be able to play as a freshman as long as he’s playing his best basketball. He'll add to a talented frontcourt that currently includes two 6-7 sophomores, Joe LoStracco (Archbishop Wood) and Remi Janicot (Hun School).
While considering some of the premier small-college programs in Pennsylvania, location became a strong incentive in Stark’s decision. Ursinus, while 40 minutes from La Salle College High School, is essentially located in Stark’s backyard.
“It’s definitely nice to stay close to home,” Stark said. “Ursinus is only five minutes away from my house. The other schools were a few hours away, so my mom will be able to see most of my games. I wanted a high-academics school because it’ll help me later on.”
Stark, who had a strong final summer with the Jersey Shore Warriors on the AAU circuit, is now focused on leading his school to an appearance in the Catholic League playoffs at The Palestra. There are multiple schools in La Salle’s way, including Roman Catholic, Archbishop Carroll, Archbishop Wood and St. Joseph’s Prep, among others. Those games, however, are still in the rear view mirror.
“It’s been great,” Stark said of his senior season. “Last night, we had our first league game and beat Ryan. I think everyone is really contributing to this year’s team. On other teams, someone specific wants to score. Our team isn’t selfish at all. We’re just taking it one step at a time with the Catholic League being so good. You can’t take one day off.”
The Explorers will welcome a relaxed Stark on December 27, when La Salle next takes on District-3 power Liberty at Parkland High School. On Sunday, though, Stark won’t be worrying about who’s in the stands to see him, or who he has to impress. All the 6-foot-6 forward has to do now, is help his team win games.
“It’s definitely a lot easier,” Stark said of getting his commitment out of the way. “I don’t have to worry about doing really well because a certain coach is watching or anything like that. It takes a lot of pressure off of me.”