Andrew Funk (above) played a versatile two-way role off the bench to help Wood run through the PIAA Class 5A bracket. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
For two years, the two or three times each season that Army and Bucknell meet on the hardwood are going to be more than just Patriot League contests.
They’re going to be family affairs.
Archbishop Wood senior Andrew Funk confirmed that future on Monday afternoon, when he made public his commitment to play for head coach Nathan Davis at Bucknell.
When he arrives at the school’s Lewisburg, Pa. campus next fall, Funk will become conference foes with his older brother Tommy Funk, who’s currently entering his sophomore season at Army.
“We’re definitely excited to go at it,” Andrew Funk told CoBL by phone on Monday. “I think it’s going to be a tough couple games for my parents and the rest of my family, who they’re going to root for.”
The Funk brothers haven’t ever been opponents for any sort of meaningful competition before -- driveway battles and intense Wood practices aside.
“I can guarantee that it won’t be weird playing against each other on the court, because we go at it 1-on-1 just every single day, living with each other,” said Tommy, who also admitted it was going to be “different” being on the opposite bench as his brother.
The Funk brothers were teammates for two years in high school at Wood, sharing the varsity court in 2015-16 when Tommy was the team’s starting point guard and Andrew was a reserve who saw solid minutes.
Last year, with Andrew averaging 7.5 points, three assists and three rebounds per game off the bench, the Vikings won 28 games and their first Catholic League and PIAA state championships.
Tommy Funk (above, as a senior at Wood in 2016) had a very strong freshman season at West Point. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
While Andrew was having a solid junior season with the Vikings, Tommy had a strong introduction to the college game. As a freshman at West Point this past year, he started all 32 games, averaging 9.1 ppg and 4.8 apg, which was good enough for second in the Patriot League. He earned All-Patriot Rookie League honors for his efforts.
It also gave Funk a peek into a league which had several programs following his progress.
“Watching my brother this year kind of acclimated me to the league,” Andrew Funk said. “I think that I was kind of unique with the [Bucknell] recruits, having a brother (in the Patriot League) I knew what I’d be getting into if I committed there.”
Bucknell is also coming off a successful year, Davis’s second since taking over the program from Dave Paulson, now at George Mason. The former Randolph-Macon head coach followed up on a 17-win debut campaign in 2015-16 by guiding the Bison to 26 wins last year, winning the Patriot League tournament championship and making the program’s fifth NCAA tournament since 2005.
“They’re getting a tough, smart player that wants to win,” said Wood’s fifth-year head coach John Mosco. “Hard-nosed, aggressive, plays downhill, scoring mentality, plays well with other teammates, can do a lot of things and he can score a lot of different ways.”
Funk cited Bucknell’s history of success as a reason he picked the school over his two other finalists, Delaware and Penn. He took his official visit to Bucknell back on Aug. 26-27 and followed up with one to UDel this past weekend, but even the presence of good friend Ryan Daly on the Blue Hens’ roster wasn’t enough to sway him from the school which had emerged in his mind as the leader.
“Delaware made the decision very hard for me,” he said. “I think before the Delaware visit I wasn’t really ready to make that decision yet. I think the weekend gave me some clarity with Bucknell, but it wasn’t like I wanted to use the visit to compare it, that’s just how it worked out.”
A 6-foot-4 combo guard, Andrew -- the middle of five Funk boys -- is a smooth outside shooter, capable of playing either the ‘1’ or the ‘2,’ skills he demonstrated at Wood and really proved this summer on the AAU circuit with the Jersey Shore Warriors.
He piled up nine scholarship offers before narrowing his choices down.
When Funk gets to school, the Bison will be needing to replace current senior point guard Stephen Brown (11.1 ppg, 4.7 apg in ‘16-17), plus wing Zach Thomas (15.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Nana Foulland (15.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg) at other positions. Current junior Kimbal Mackenzie (11.9 ppg), sophomore Avi Toomer (3.2 ppg) and freshman Jimmy Sotos will all be ahead of Funk in the backcourt rotation, but there’s certainly the availability for Funk -- the only currently committed player for Bucknell’s 2018 class -- to earn minutes.
“Coming in as a freshman, (the coaches) didn’t promise playing time but they promised the opportunity, spelling people both on the ball and off the ball,” he said.
Before Andrew gets to start his college career, he’ll try to lead Wood to back-to-back league, district and state championship titles, though they’ll have fierce competition for all three. This year, he’ll be one of four senior Division I-bound starters for Mosco’s Vikings, along with the yet-to-decide Tyree Pickron, Seth Pinkney and Karrington Wallace.
He also gets to impart some more knowledge on his twin brothers, Albert and Michael, a pair of 6th graders who are the final of five Funk boys. Though their hoops futures are still far from decided, the pair have gotten quite the exposure towards what it takes to get that coveted Division I scholarship.
“They’ve definitely soaked it up, all the things my brother and I went through,” Andrew Funk said. “They soak up all the games, all the practices, all the conversations.”
There’s certainly one college league they’re going to know very well.