FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – When it’s all said and done, Antwaan Cushingberry will go down as one of the best to ever play with the Saint Francis men’s basketball program.

In his four years with Saint Francis, Cushingberry has piled up the accolades with the Cougars. He’s a 2-time NAIA All-American. He led the Cougars to a NAIA Final Four appearance in 2021, and he’s become one of the top scorers in all of program history.

With an extra year of eligibility, Cushingberry almost opted to play his final year of college basketball elsewhere. However, his heart remained with Saint Francis, one of the few schools that offered him a chance at playing in college.

“Coach (Chad) LaCross and Coach Cummings took a chance on me,” Cushingberry recalls. “I just feel like for my last season I should be here.”

A sudden exit to last season also factored in to Cushingberry’s decision to return. After advancing to the NAIA Final Four in 2021, Saint Francis fell in the Round of 32 in the most recent tournament.

“When I lost that game it kind of felt like I knew I had to come back,” Cushingberry said. “I had to be back in that spot, in that position. Even coming back from that final four, I wanted to get back to that. Then losing in the Round of 32, it put a chip back on my shoulder. So I’m definitely motivated.”

As you might expect, LaCross was thrilled when he found out his All-American was returning to Saint Francis for one more year. As Cushingberry has shown throughout his college career, his presence on the floor makes Saint Francis a better team.

“He’s really proved himself to be one of the best guards in the country at our level,” LaCross said. “We feel like we can win a lot of games with him, with the ball in his hands.”

Cushingberry is one of four returning starters, joining Carroll High School grads Dan McKeeman and David Ejah, along with Brayton Bailey. Add in several returning role players and new freshman, and Cushingberry believes another special season is on deck.

Saint Francis tips off the 2022-23 season this fall, which includes an exhibition against Indiana University on Nov. 3 at Assembly Hall.