The men’s basketball seniors from the Class of ’23 graduated following a 23-9 season that culminated with Princeton’s first trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 since the NCAA Tournament expanded in the 1980s. They’ve gone their separate ways, but all five are still playing: Four are using their final year of NCAA eligibility (from 2020-21, when the Ivy League season was canceled because of the pandemic) as graduate students at other schools, while Tosan Evbuomwan is now in the pros. PAW caught up with each alum earlier this fall.
The versatile 6-foot-8 forward from Newcastle, England, gained national acclaim during the Tigers’ March Madness run, averaging 16 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6 assists per game — and watching alumni fans flock to Sacramento and Louisville to watch the games. “It’s really cool to see how many people care and are invested,” he said. “I’m sure the run has also helped my teammates, both short- and long-term.”
Performing well on that stage helped Evbuomwan’s professional appeal. He was invited to the NBA G League Elite Camp in May, and after a couple days was elevated to the main NBA Draft Combine. Evbuomwan went undrafted, but the Detroit Pistons signed him to an Exhibit 10 contract, a type of free-agent deal that allows an NBA team to keep the player on its affiliated G League team. Evbuomwan began his season with the Motor City Cruise and in the first three games — all Motor City wins — he averaged 14.7 points, 9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists.
“Princeton set me up massively,” Evbuomwan said. “Obviously basketball-wise, I was fortunate to have great coaches which helped prepare me a lot on the floor, but in general I think in terms of just the next step in life and starting to navigate ‘the real world.’”
The 6-foot-8, 225-pound power forward started all 32 games for Princeton last year and ranked second in the Ivy League with a 61.4 field-goal percentage. Kellman left two days after graduation to start classes at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he is working toward a master’s degree in entrepreneurship. He was able to jump right into workouts with his new team.
“One of the biggest differences is at this school we’re able to work out in the summertime as opposed to Ivy schools where you’re not allowed to be on campus working out with the team during summers,” said Kellman. “So having a full-on summer, that was a lot different for me. Being in a completely different location is crazy too.”
Kellman said he’s trying to replicate Princeton’s chemistry and togetherness and “help install winning ways into this program.” He started the Eagles’ first five games, averaging 12.2 points per game, including a 14-point effort in a loss to Pittsburgh.
The 6-foot-7 wing/forward is working toward a master’s degree in sports business at New York University and would like to work in the sports world after this year. The Violets reached the Division III national tournament last year for the first time since 2015-16.
Kiszka, who scored a season-high 13 points with his new team in a Nov. 12 loss to Swarthmore, hopes the lessons he learned from four years at Princeton will help him on his new team. “Coach [Mitch] Henderson [’98] had a real love for the game, so he taught us a lot,” he said. “I feel like I could fit in anywhere.”
The Class of 2023 players remain in touch with each other via text messages and calls. They play in the same fantasy football league. They share their experiences with their new teams, but also reminisce about their Princeton moments.
“We talk about mostly the nights in the hotels and the plane rides and bus rides,” Kiszka said. “We just remember those from last year the most, just being together. Those wins were obviously amazing, but just being together was probably the best part.”
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard scored 26 points in his final game in orange and black, Princeton’s Sweet 16 loss to Creighton. He led the Tigers in scoring during the NCAA Tournament run. While working toward a master’s in sports administration, he will use his final year of eligibility with Northwestern, the Big Ten school where Henderson served as an assistant before taking the Princeton job.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it until we finished our season,” Langborg said of his graduate transfer plan. “Obviously I wanted to give everything I had to Princeton. And then, how could you not want to play another year when you have the opportunity, after finishing the way we did?”
Langborg began workouts with Northwestern in the summer, and he admits that at times he felt like a freshman as he learned new offensive and defensive schemes. But by October he was feeling more comfortable.
“Now that we’ve come back and we’re in full practices, I am starting to feel like a returner, like a leader type of guy,” Langborg said. “I know I have to be vocal and take care of the young guys that are still going to mess up. Now that I know the basics of it, I can rely on my experience to help me get through it and learn everything quicker.”
Langborg has been in the starting lineup for each of the Wildcats’ first five games and is averaging 12 points per game.
The 7-foot center is now at Merrimack, where he is studying health and wellness management on his path to medical school. Merrimack won its conference in 2022-23, its first year of Division I play, but was not eligible for the NCAA Tournament.
“I think the team this year will be really good again,” said O’Connell. “I think we’re going to have a chance to win the conference, and this year Merrimack actually is eligible for the NCAA Tournament. That was one of the things I liked about it, basically the opportunity to go and do it all again.”
So far, O’Connell has played as a reserve, averaging 4.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 22.3 minutes per game.
“It’s kind of strange that we’ll all be at separate schools,” he said. “I’ll have to check a bunch of different box scores every night just to see how everyone is doing.”