Butler's Eyth, Kunst opt for Mercyhurst
Hoop teammates have been together since 3rd grade
Butler seniors Alyssa Eyth, left, and Jenna Kunst, friends and teammates since third grade, have signed letters of intent to continue their academic and basketball careers at Mercyhurst University. Butler girls basketball coach Mark Maier is at far right.
JOHN ENRIETTO/ BUTLER EAGLE
BUTLER TWP — Alyssa Eyth and Jenna Kunst have been basketball teammates since the third grade.
That's going to last a little longer.
The two Butler seniors signed letters of intent Wednesday to continue their academic and basketball careers at Mercyhurst University.
“I went up there for a visit and saw how good their biology program was,” said Kunst, a senior forward with the Golden Tornado. “That's what I want to study and I knew Alyssa wanted to go into that field, too.
“I told her about it, Mercyhurst was recruiting her and now we're both going.”
Kunst averaged 12 points and five rebounds per game for Butler last season. Eyth averaged 12 points per contest as well.
The two made their overnight visit together, met the team together and will be roommates together next year.
“Almost right away, we felt like we were part of a family,” Eyth said of Mercyhurst.
Despite their close friendship, Eyth and Kunst did not commit to Mercyhurst at the same time. They did look at different schools and Kunst committed to the Lakers a few days before Eyth did so.
Kunst also considered Fairmont State, California (Pa.) and Grove City. Eyth was considering Grove City, Wheeling Jesuit and Carnegie Mellon.
“It was the biology program that sold me,” Eyth said. “It is outstanding and academics have to come first.”
They always have with this pair.
Eyth is carrying a 4.4 grade point average while Kunst carries a 4.0.
“She's got me by a couple of points,” Kunst said, laughing.
The two will be joining a rebuilding Mercyhurst basketball program. The Lakers are coming off a 24-8 season and first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance since 1995.
But only one senior is on the roster this year and Mercyhurst is picked to finish last in the PSAC West preseason coaches poll. Ten of the Lakers' players are either freshmen or sophomores.
“They're walking into a good situation,” Butler coach Mark Maier said. “Those two are great friends and they'll get a chance to play early in their careers.
“Mercyhurst is a good fit for both of them.”
Deanna Richard is entering her 10th year as Lakers coach. She has 116 career wins.
Mercyhurst graduated three double-digit scorers from a year ago. Its top returning scorer averaged 8.3 points per game las year.
“I love the coaches up there and the fact it's such a young team,” Eyth said. “They only have one senior, so we've already met most of the players.”
Eyth and Kunst still have to play their senior seasons at Butler first. They will be leaders of a veteran unit under first-year head coach Maier.
“Both are dedicated and versatile players,” Maier said. “We have a good, strong senior class. Alyssa and Jenna will lead the way.”
Kunst welcomes that challenge — a game at a time.
“There's a lot we want to accomplish and making the playoffs is definitely one of them,” Kunst said. “But we have to approach it game-by-game. That's the only way it's going to happen.”