By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Graduating in 2020, Trey Townsend finished his Oxford Wildcat career with 1,010 points, making him the second-leading scorer in school history.
When it came time for him to make his decision about where he wanted to continue his academic and athletic journey at the collegiate level, the choice was an easy one, as he committed to the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in November 2019, where his father, Skip, and mother, Nicole, both also played hoops.
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 212 pounds, Townsend and his teammates experienced an unusual offseason because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but were able to begin their 2020-21 campaign in the Xavier Invitational against the host Musketeers at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 25.
A member of the Big East Conference, Xavier is consistently one of the best programs in the country, having made the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament 28 times, including 16 appearances since 2001.
Behind 21 points and 12 rebounds from sophomore forward Zach Freemantle, a Teaneck, New Jersey native who was a Big East All-Freshman Team honoree a year ago, the Musketeers ran past the Golden Grizzlies, who reside in the Horizon League, 101-49.
Impressively, Townsend started his first game at the collegiate level and finished with six rebounds, two points and two steals in 23 minutes of action.
The next day, Thursday, November 26, which doubled as Thanksgiving, Oakland took to the floor again, battling the Mid-American Conference’s (MAC) Toledo Rockets, who fell to the Bradley Braves, 61-59, in their Xavier Invitational-opener.
Closing the gap from the Musketeer game, the Golden Grizzlies were defeated, 80-53. Receiving another starting nod, Townsend played 24:22 and totaled four rebounds, two points, an assist, and a steal.
Rounding out the four-team invitational against the Braves, who are based in Peoria, Illinois and compete in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), on November 27, Oakland continued to shrink the margin of defeat, losing 74-60.
Junior point guard Jalen Moore, a junior college transfer from Olney (Illinois) Central, scored a game-high 17 points for the Golden Grizzlies, while senior forward Elijah Childs led Bradley with 16 points.
Townsend played 29:32, pulling down six rebounds and adding five points and two steals.
Continuing their difficult non-conference schedule, Oakland returned to the Great Lakes State to clash with the Michigan Wolverines, then-ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press Poll, on November 29.
Taking the game to overtime, Greg Kampe’s Golden Grizzlies gave Juwan Howard’s Wolverines all they could handle, dropping an evenly matched contest, 81-71.
The best game of his young career, Townsend reached double-figures for the first time, recording 13 points, and chipped in four rebounds. His point total was second-most on the team, behind only Moore’s 21.
For much of the second half, the Oxford product was tasked with defending a fellow freshman, 7-foot-1, 255-pound center Hunter Dickinson, a graduate of DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Maryland, who the 247Sports Composite ranked as one of the top-10 players at his position nationally in the 2020 recruiting cycle.
“The referee came over to me during the game and said, ‘That kid’s a freshman?’” Kampe said regarding Townsend postgame, via GoldenGrizzlies.com.
“I go, ‘Yeah, he’s a freshman.’ We got a lot of freshman out there, we got a lot of first-year players, this was their first Big Ten game, their first high-major game.”
Oakland played their second-straight Big Ten game on Tuesday, December 1 against the Purdue Boilermakers at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana. Results, unfortunately, were not available in time for this edition.
On Saturday, December 5, the Golden Grizzlies will travel to Stillwater to square off with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who feature freshman point guard Cade Cunningham, a five-star prospect and the top player in the country in the 2020 class, according to the Composite.
Through four games, all of which he has started, Townsend is averaging 5.5 points, five rebounds, 1.7 steals and 0.5 assists. He is shooting 60 percent from the floor (nine-for-15), including 33 percent from three-point range (one-for-three), and 60 percent from the free throw line (three-for-five).
By Teddy Rydquist