Saint Louis University’s seniors have played their last game at Chaifetz Arena, hard as it is to believe, and they certainly went out on a high note. The Billikens triumphed 85-75 over Duquesne to stay in contention for the coveted double-bye. However, before looking ahead to the battle royale for the 4 seed against the Bonnies, let’s take some time to appreciate SLU’s seniors, all they’ve given to the program, and what they still have to give.
Simply put, Javon Bess is one of the best Billikens of all time. The Michigan State transfer has done in 2 years what would take most 2 entire college careers. Bess likes to go to the gym at 6am every morning to get up shots, and his work ethic paid off. Bess has served as SLU’s leading scorer, lockdown defender, and leader for both of his years at SLU, and his contributions just can’t be measured by the stat sheet. Bess has been battling an ankle injury severe enough that he’s been unable to practice for almost 2 months, and what he’s done in that timespan is nothing short of astounding. Billikens fans should thank their lucky stars that Bess chose SLU over Akron (coached at the time by the Dukes coach Keith Dambrot), because he has been a truly special player. The Billikens have come a long way since the Travis and Javon Bess is the biggest representative of the culture change.
Isabell has had a bit of an uneven season, but he’s been extremely good in the past few games, and his senior night performance was a culmination of that. Dropping 39 points, Isabell was electric, dropping big treys and coming up with baskets when SLU needed it the most. Isabell had been reminding SLU fans exactly why Ford recruited him the past few games. Last game, Isabell reminded everyone why testing the NBA draft waters last year was a good idea. He’s so exciting when driving to the hoop and has produced a ton of highlight moments throughout the year. Isabell’s scoring will be the X-factor in the A-10 tournament, and if he stays hot, SLU could be a huge disruptor in the tourney.
Travis Ford’s first commit, D.J. Foreman has been a great role player for the Billikens. Foreman has led SLU in field goal percentage in each of his seasons at SLU and really helped keep the boat steady after SLU suffered departures in the frontcourt. He’s been a solid rebounding presence and offensive spark that’s become a key veteran for this SLU team. Foreman committing to SLU from Rutgers really set the tone for Travis Ford’s recruiting and sewed the first seeds of excitement for Travis Ford’s tenure as head coach. Whatever success SLU has under Ford, remember, it all started with D.J.
Wiley’s college career was marred by injuries, but he’s been another good addition to the Billikens. Due to those injuries, Wiley is only shooting 31% from deep, but he’s hit a lot of clutch treys and really helped space the floor on a team that desperately needs floor spacing. He’s also one of those guys who’s just fun to watch shoot. Wiley’s been a great locker room presence and a great member of Team Blue.
Technically Welmer is a sophomore, but that’s only because he’s been so injured he’s only managed to play one year for SLU. Despite the injuries, Welmer worked hard to get back and start on Senior Night, which was so great to see. It’s likely Welmer’s career is over, and it’s hard not to imagine what could have been, but Welmer will always been a Billiken and a valued one at that.