One of Erskine’s own will be playing basketball in Spain next season.
Austin Venable, one of the Fleet’s key seniors this past season, signed a professional contract with Spanish club CB Solares in the Liga EBA.
Venable played two seasons with the Fleet and was named All-Conference in each year. He averaged 14.4 points, had 36 blocks and shot 55% from the field.
Erskine coach Lee Sartor said Venable identified playing professionally as a goal at the beginning of last season.
“It seemed like every practice he was doing more and more positive stuff out there on the court and gaining in confidence,” Sartor said. “I feel like every game he got better as the year went on. The thing I was most pleased with is he started to use his size and he was probably one of the toughest players to deal with in our conference because of his size.”
Sartor said he was proud of the way Venable worked toward the opportunity. Venable started his college career at Presbyterian but transferred to Erskine to play his final two years.
“I told him that a lot of it was going to be about how hard he worked and how much he wanted it and him having to set that as a goal,” Sartor said. “So I’m happy that he worked toward it and I’m very happy that he was able to achieve it. I’m proud of him.”
Solares is in the fourth division of the Spanish basketball league system.
Sartor was named Erskine’s men’s basketball coach last spring, when Mark Peeler was promoted to athletic director. Sartor last coached at Spartanburg Christian, where he coached eventual No. 1 NBA draft pick Zion Williamson.
Erskine had a 14-13 record in the 2018-19 season, its first winning season in six years and the school’s third winning season in the last 20 years. The Fleet finished fifth in Conference Carolinas after being picked last in the preseason poll.
Sartor said his first year coaching in college was a great experience.
“You always want to put a good team out there that’s able to compete and get better and that is able to reach its potential,” Sartor said. “And I think as a team we were able to be playing our best basketball toward the end of the year and that’s what you want. I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish this year.”