By Chris Mitchell
Assistant AD for Communications
The Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team will honor its six seniors prior to Sunday's contest against Carnegie Mellon University – Matt Highsmith, Jake Knupp, Kevin Kucera, Andrew Sanders, David Schmelter and Sasha Sobolev.
The senior class has helped guide the Bears to a 76-24 (.760) overall record with two NCAA Tournament appearances and the 2017 University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship. This group has also posted a 39-14 (.736) conference mark in their four seasons on the Danforth Campus.
The group reflected on the past four years at WashU with Assistant AD for Communications Chris Mitchell.
What made you choose to come to WashU?
Matt Highsmith: I had seen the basketball program play and met several of the guys on the team. I love the people I met and knew there was a history of success here.
Jake Knupp: High quality academics and basketball program.
Kevin Kucera: WashU allowed me to receive a world class education while playing for an unbelievable coaching staff and program.
Andrew Sanders: I came to WashU because of an experienced coaching staff and the opportunity to compete for a national championship.
David Schmelter: Great academics and the opportunity to continue my basketball career for a legendary DIII basketball program.
Sasha Sobolev: The opportunities in education and the chance to win a national championship with the team.
What have you learned from playing under head coach Mark Edwards?
Highsmith: I have learned the value of putting a team's interests before your own. It always works out better for everyone that way.
Knupp: Winning is important, but the relationships you build with teammates and coaches are the most valuable parts of basketball.
Kucera: Coach constantly reminds us of the importance of focus and maintaining focus throughout the course of a 40-minute game. We have made unbelievable strides in that regard since the beginning of the year and I think it's one of the main reasons for our success thus far.
Sanders: I have learned to never underestimate your opponent and to value every possession.
Schmelter: The value of teamwork and the motivating aspect of competition.
Sobolev: I learned how important it is to develop a culture of respect, good values, and teamwork within an organization. This not only leads to helping us as college kids grow and mature but creates a championship mentality. The basketball culture also spans across all generations of players here.
What is your favorite basketball memory at WashU?
Highsmith: I remember a specific game my sophomore year where I went up for a dunk and the ball actually went in.
Knupp: Playing an exhibition game at the University of Illinois.
Kucera: So far, my favorite memory was rallying from 17 down to beat Ripon College in the first round of the tournament our Junior year - not many better feelings than tournament wins!
Sanders: Winning our first UAA championship my junior year.
Schmelter: Ending our sophomore season with a five-game winning streak to secure the programs 32nd-straight winning season. Phew, close one!
Sobolev: Trip to Jack's house in Florida after the tournament last year with some of the other basketball players. Also, all the funny moments that happen in practice and on trips. There are too many to tell!
What are your future plans upon graduating from WashU?
Highsmith: I will be working at Maryville Technologies in St. Louis.
Knupp: Take a gap year to work before attending medical school.
Kucera: I will be working for Northern Trust in Chicago, IL as a Global Trade Analyst.
Schmelter: I will be working for Gap Inc. in New York City as an Inventory Management Analyst in the company's Rotational Management program.
Sobolev: I am currently looking at working in the medical device or biotech industry.