A former Carterville and John A. Logan College standout has joined the men’s basketball team.
Ryan Bonifield, a 6-foot-5 sophomore forward, walked-on to first-year coach Barry Hinson’s team. Bonifield led Carterville High School in scores and rebounds as a 2011 senior before playing for John A. Logan last season.
Bonifield played in 23 games as a Volunteers walk-on and scored 35 points. He grabbed 61 rebounds in limited action, including 21 on the offensive end. He also chipped in 10 assists, eight steals and two blocks.
Bonifield will step in for the Salukis who are dealing with injury problems. Hinson said at the team’s Oct. 23 media day that the men have struggled in practice because they haven’t had enough members to play 5-on-5.
He said the team searched for somebody to help the Salukis practice and possibly play in the game.
“We are really struggling with having enough guys to practice on the floor,” Hinson said last week. “We can’t absorb much more.”
Bonifield will provide depth to the Salukis’ front court, which has been depleted because of injuries to sophomore center Dantiel Daniels, junior forward Davante Drinkard and freshman forward Chase Heins.
Daniels, who made the Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman team last season, is out for at least five weeks with a groin injury, Hinson said. Drinkard, the Salukis’ tallest player at 6 feet 8 inches, has been limited by nagging foot problems. Heins, a Trico native, is out three months and will redshirt since he underwent surgery last week.
The Salukis were forced to play four guards at times in Saturday’s exhibition opener with just Drinkard and Antonio Bryer available. However, the men rolled to an 83-47 win over Division II Lincoln University.
The Salukis, who were picked 10th in the MVC preseason poll Monday, will host Upper Iowa in its final exhibition game at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.