Penguin freshman Bohannon expects to be contributor

YOUNGSTOWN — Naz Bohannon has a tattoo of Lorain on his body.

It signifies his past struggles and shows the pride he feels for his hometown.

Bohannon points to the success of fellow Lorain High School graduate Thomas Wimbush, a former Fairmont State University player who was drafted by the Long Island Nets out of the G-League.

“I want to show everybody that we can come from everything we’ve been a part of and make it out of there,” Bohannon said.

His parents always stressed schoolwork first.

The Youngstown State University freshman basketball player said if his schoolwork wasn’t placed first and foremost, basketball — or football — wouldn’t have been an option. Bohannon was a sought-after defensive end out of Lorain.

He graduated with a 3.93 GPA and earned an associate’s degree from Lorain Community College before setting foot on the YSU campus.

It’s about pride in his hometown.

“They molded me into being that 3.93 kid, the athlete that I am today,” he said.

Bohannon took pre-calculus and trigonometry during the summer. His mechanical engineering courses are going well, but like many, calculus is a bit of a struggle. Tutoring is helping.

With such an intensive workload, school and athletics, you wonder how the Lorain County Player of the Year makes it work?

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Bohannon said.

Bohannon’s approach to his YSU experience impresses first-year Penguin coach Jerrod Calhoun, who coached Wimbush at Fairmont State.

“You’re not going to get too many Naz Bohannon’s nowadays,” Calhoun said. “He’s well beyond his years. He takes his school very, very seriously, the way he does on the court.”

Some people have compared Bohannon’s game to former Kent State legend and San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, a former college basketball standout who landed in the NFL.

It’s an NBA standout who catches Bohannon’s eye, Golden State’s Draymond Green. Ironically, Bohannon mimicked the success Green has on the court with a near-triple double against Thiel last week in an exhibition game.

“Draymond is a person who prides himself on doing all of the little things,” Bohannon said.

Calhoun describes Bohannon as mean, tough competitor.

“He’s been our most consistent guy, whether it’s on the court, leader on the sidelines, getting the team together,” he said of Bohannon. “He’s a natural-born leader.

“You don’t see that very often. He’s a guy that’s going to help our team change the landscape of Youngstown State basketball. He’s going to be a guy we can rely on the next four years.”

This is a place where Bohannon wants to get his degree, and also wants to change the mediocre landscape of YSU teams of the past three-plus decades.

“I don’t take a back door to nobody,” he said. “We don’t fear nobody. I play with the mentality that I’m trying to change the landscape, just like coach Calhoun. It’s a Youngstown versus everybody kind of thing.”

Don’t be surprised if Bohannon gets a Youngstown tattoo to match the one of Lorain.