Tale of two duos: Reliving the careers of record breaking pairs for men's and women's basketball
When it comes to breaking down the Central Michigan men's and women's basketball team, one thing is for certain — Sue Guevara and Keno Davis have noticeably different coaching styles.
However, when you take a look back at what pumped the gas pedal to make the both Chippewa squads go in the 2018-19 season, it was very similar.
A dynamic duo.
On the men's side, it was a guard set of Larry Austin Jr. and Shawn Roundtree Jr., a pair of players who were overlooked for most of their careers and transferred in with something to prove.
On the other side in women's hoops, it was a guard and forward tandem who raised havoc to their opponents in the Mid-American Conference and beyond since they were freshman. Their names: Presley Hudson and Reyna Frost.
Both of these pairs guided their teams to 20-plus win seasons and a postseason berth.
The stories of how they got here, however, are very different. And the result was four players who left marks in the program record books.
A final stop
All Shawn Roundtree wanted to do was play Division I basketball. After graduating from Edwardsville High School in Illinois, Missouri State gave him that chance.
As a freshman with the Bears, Roundtree felt he was only getting better as a player. The six-foot, 185-pound guard played in 30 games while adding a couple starts in his first year. However, due to an injury, the sophomore season he felt he would earn more starts involved him watching only from the sideline.
This pushed back the progress Roundtree felt he made. After never seeing another live contest with the Bears, he ended up transferring to Mineral Area College, a JUCO school in Missouri. More problems occurred. Roundtree felt stuck in a place where there was only 5,000 students compared to 20,000 at Missouri State.
He battled depression being away from his family and uncertainty rattled through his brain waves on if he wanted to play basketball anymore.
“There were some very dark days, I was having a hard time staying strong-minded," Roundtree said. “I knew what level I wanted to reach, but needed the motivation to get there.”
After struggling in his first couple of games, and thanks to guidance from his father and mother, Roundtree put together a campaign of averaging 10.9 points, 3.1 assists and two rebounds per game. He found a way out of his 'darker days' and transferred to CMU prior to the 2017-18 season.
It didn't take long for Davis to realize he had his next point guard.
Roundtree led the Chippewas with 151 assists and was No. 6 in the MAC with 14.8 points per game. Early in the season he made a game-winning shot to give CMU a championship in the Great Alaskan Shootout. From there, he would be looked to as a player who would have the ball in his hands to decide close games.
However, the results weren't flashy. His team finished with a 21-15 overall record and CMU was just 8-11 in MAC play. While Roundtree was scoring the ball at a high rate, it seemed like there was something missing in the back court.
His name was Larry Austin Jr.
Another player who had been recycled through the college basketball transfer portal multiple times, Austin was highly touted coming out of Lanphier High School in Springfield, Illinois. He was rated No. 7 overall by the 247Sports Composite in Illinois with offers from Providence, Tennessee, Bradley, DePaul and Xavier.
Austin wanted to go to Tennessee and committed there but opted out because the head coach Cuonzo Martin at the time left for California. Being rushed to make a decision before the signing period ended later in the same month of April he decommitted, Austin chose Xavier.
It wasn't the right fit. So after spending 2014-16 with the Musketeers, Austin transferred to Vanderbilt. He never averaged more than 11 minutes per outing at the two schools. He viewed his transfer options once again following the 2016-17 season and ended up coming to CMU.
Davis envisioned having a two-guard set again with Austin and Roundtree once again. Needless to say it worked like in past years for Davis, but this time it had a different way of being effective.
Austin was built as a slasher. Roundtree was a facilitator and 3-point shooter. In past seasons with combinations like Marcus Keene and Braylon Rayson or Rayshawn Simmons and Chris Fowler, 3-point shooting was the main source for points. The 2018-19 guard set was much different.
Roundtree and Austin didn't just lead with their skills, they did so with emotion. Whenever things got out of hand, Roundtree would gather his group and get them calm. And whenever the team needed a spark, Austin would use his high-energy antics of pumping his first or voicing his emotion with a yell that will echo through McGuirk Arena for a long time as it did when fans would rise to their feet.
"I use my emotions to show I'm confident to get those stops by being vocal towards my opponents," Austin said. "I want to let them know I'm here."
Roundtree became the 34th Chippewa to score over 1,000 points in his career, doing so in just over two seasons. Austin set the single-season record for steals (78) and assists (209). Both Austin (fifth, 17.5 points per game) and Roundtree (eighth, 16.6) finished in the top-10 of scoring in the league for 2018-19. Austin made the conferences All-MAC Second Team and Defensive Team. Roundtree made the All-MAC Third Team.
CMU finished with a 23-12 overall record, two more wins than a season ago, and finished fifth in the MAC after being projected to finish last place in the MAC preseason rankings. CMU also made the semifinal round of the MAC Tournament with a berth in the College Basketball Invitational.
While they didn't win a banner, the duo led CMU to prove doubters wrong.
"We found a couple of guys that were hungry to win in Larry and Shawn," Davis said. "They were determined, they put in the work and were great people. That's what Mount Pleasant is about, it doesn't work if you don't bring in the right character. This group had it."
At the end of it all Roundtree looked back and said he was truly grateful for the chance to play with the program.
"You gotta understand I was a guy who was told I was one of the worst guys on the roster," Roundtree said. "To be able to find a home at Central Michigan for these last two years that have been incredible, and the bonds I formed with this team, man, I'll cherish them for life."
A staple of women's basketball history
As roommates, teammates and friends, it's no secret that Frost and Hudson helped flip the page on this record-breaking chapter of CMU women's hoops.
However, what many people don't know is how their relationship began.
The two first met on the Michigan Sting Elite AAU team in the summer of 2014. They were first-year teammates before beginning their final season of high school basketball.
Hudson, a Wayland native with a basketball-filled family, was already committed to CMU in the before the summer of 2014. Frost on the other hand, was still weighing her options on where she would play college hoops, which included rival Western Michigan and Bucknell.
In the August of that summer, Frost became a Chippewa. Hudson couldn't wait to play with her old AAU teammate once again.
"I loved playing with her in AAU so when coach G(uevara) told me Reyna was coming to CMU, I was really excited for the next four years," Hudson said.
From there the bond only blossomed between the two.
And the benefits on the court followed.
Both Frost and Hudson wasted no time making their names known in the MAC. Hudson was named the MAC Freshman of the Year and to the All-MAC Second Team. She averaged 13.9 points per game which led the Chippewas and was the only freshman to do so.
While Frost battled for playing time with former CMU forward Jewel Cotton through the first eight games, she eventually replaced Cotton in the starting lineup. With it came 308 rebounds, a selection to the All-MAC Freshman Team and was runner-up for MAC Freshman of the Year to only her teammate Hudson. The Reese native averaged a balanced 8.4 points and 9.3 boards per game in her first season of NCAA basketball.
As sophomore's the numbers kept improving, and so did the wins. Frost averaged nearly a double-double with 9.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Hudson bumped her points per game up nearly three tallies to 16.8 points per contest while her assists per game improved by 1.4 to 4.9. They helped guide CMU to a MAC West Division title but were bounced by Western Michigan in the first round of the MAC Tournament.
Following a trip to the WNIT, Frost and Hudson felt it was only the beginning with what they could accomplish as Chippewas.
"We knew with Twin starting to play and Cassie (Breen) and Tinara (Moore), we knew that we all played well together," Frost said. "We started having open gyms that were clicking really well, we knew it could be a special year."
"I knew if everyone put in the work they wanted to, we could do what we wanted which was win a MAC Championship," she said.
Right they were.
With a starting lineup including Micaela Kelly, Cassie Breen and Tinara Moore plus Hudson and Frost, CMU had built arguably its best team in program history. All five players averaged double figures in scoring per outing. Hudson was up to 18.3 points per game, while Frost breached the double-double average, with 13.7 points and 11.9 caroms per game.
The result? Another MAC regular season title, a MAC Tournament title and the first-ever NCAA Tournament win over No. 6 LSU, 78-69, in the first round.
But it didn't stop there.
CMU went to Columbus, Ohio and blew out No. 3 Ohio State 95-78 on its home floor, advancing to the Sweet 16 where it fell to No. 2 Oregon 83-69. The team finished the season 30-5 overall.
As seniors, the two were looked at as the anchors of the Chippewas starting lineup and team. Once again, Frost and Hudson produced but at even newer heights.
For the first time in her four years, Frost led CMU in scoring at 22.2 points per game while the rebounding numbers improved to 13.3 per game. She set the program record for career boards with 1,526, a goal she set before coming to CMU. Frost made the All-MAC First Team and was named the MAC Player of the Year. She broke her own single-season rebounding record with 439.
"I want people to know that nothing came easy for us," Frost said. "We were hard workers and had to do so to hit goals that we set. I want underclassmen to remember that when we are gone. They need to work hard now to get to the goals they set and I hope they can look at us and what we did and do that."
Hudson followed suit. She broke the program's career points record with 2,309 tallies. She also broke the record for career 3-pointers made with 407 netted. Hudson was named to the All-MAC First Team, averaging 20.4 points and 5.7 assists per game, both stats went up in production each season she wore the "Flying C".
"I would say exactly what Reyna said, honestly," Hudson said of how Frost wants to be remembered. "We both wanted to leave the same paths to follow."
CMU made the NCAA Tournament once again and won a third consecutive MAC regular season title. CMU was given its highest-seed ever at No. 8 but was bounced 88-87 by No. 9 Michigan State in the first round.
With everything coming to an end, Hudson and Frost know they will be friends for life. The two set records that will more than likely last for a long time in the CMU women's archives.
But if they are ever broken, you can be sure both future CMU hall of famers will be following along.
"I think coach G was able to kind of build that culture within us," Hudson said. "She's going to continue to do that with the players that she has and will develop them to continue to beat good teams and make postseason runs."
Guevara and Davis have now both been given a challenge of replacing these two stars that left marks on the programs.
On the women's side of things, there are clear replacements for Frost and Hudson in line.
When talking about the core of her squad, Guevara would always allude to "the big three" in her starting lineup. Obviously two of those players were the seniors, but Kelly was the third.
The sophomore still has two seasons remaining of eligibility at CMU and appears to be next in line for taking a leadership role in the back court with Hudson departing.
"Every year, each year I want to get it done," Kelly said following the NCAA Tournament loss to MSU. "It's the mentality I have. Winning is fun, losing hurts. As I grow, I want to continue to be coachable. It's a process."
The 5-foot-6 Detroit native averaged 14.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in her second season of college basketball. She also totaled 127 assists which was second on the team behind Hudson (188).
In the post to replace Frost, it would appear sophomore Kyra Bussell and freshman Jahari Smith will take over the load. Smith started all 33 games for the Chippewas this season, but Bussell averaged 20.2 minutes per game off the bench, while Smith averaged 19.4. Essentially, the players split the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation.
Bussell, a 6-foot-1 forward, averaged 7.8 points and 4.4 boards per outing while Smith, a 6-foot center, scored 6.1 points and added 4.4 caroms per game.
On the men's side of things, it is a little more tricky.
Needing to replace more than a third of its offensive production between Roundtree and Austin who averaged 34.1 points per game (CMU as a team at 82.7), Davis will more than likely turn to his sixth man this season.
Junior guard Dallas Morgan was a spark plug off the bench, scoring 8.1 points per contest in 35 games while shooting 36.8 percent (64-of-174) from beyond the arc.
"(Morgan) is someone who creates instant offense and is becoming a really good defender," said head coach Keno Davis. "He gives us a lift off the bench and we want him to keep growing into a complete player by the time he leaves here."
Like Austin and Roundtree, Morgan was a transfer to CMU from a junior college. The only other guard listed for the Chippewas to return is freshman P.J. Mitchell who was redshirted in 2018-19. It leaves question to whether Davis will rely on recruits, Mitchell or go and find another transfer guard to help the Chippewas back court.