A Family Affair on the Court
Kent State University’s men’s basketball team won the 2023 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship and appeared in the NCAA Tournament. As the team prepares to tip off its 2023-2024 season on Monday, Nov. 6, against Malone University at home in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, the Golden Flashes look to some family connections to help propel this year’s team.
Guard Jalen Sullinger, a native of Columbus, Ohio, and the MAC’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year, doesn’t have to look far for a very familiar face to help coach and guide him both on and off the court. His uncle, Julian Sullinger, serves as assistant head coach with the Golden Flashes. Julian Sullinger knows what it takes to win at Kent State, having played four years with the team and capturing two conference championships. Both Sullingers were recruited by Rob Senderoff, the all-time winningest coach in program history, who begins his 13th season as Kent State’s head coach.
“To be able to do that with your family – true family – is a really special thing that years from now they’ll both really cherish,” Senderoff said during an interview with WEWS News 5 Cleveland regarding the Sullingers being able to experience the basketball season together.
The family ties do not end there. Also on the team is Mike Bekelja, of Solon, Ohio, a redshirt junior who transferred from Duquesne. Bekelja’s brother is Sincere Carry, who graduated this past spring. Carry was a vital contributor to the team’s successful season last year and was recently chosen in the 2023 NBA G League Draft by the Memphis Hustle.
“I really want to play for coach Senderoff,” Bekelja told News Channel 5. “Can’t wait to play in front of Kent State finally. Can’t wait to have my parents come and watch me again.”