It’s not rare for Central Maine Community College men’s basketball head coach Dave Gonyea to get players from the Maine coast. Gonyea brings in players from all across the state, averaging between seven and 10 a year, he estimates.

What is rare, according to Gonyea, is getting three players from the same school. But that’s just what the Mustangs have this year in the first-year trio of former Belfast High School players Kaleb Benjamin, Levi Lapham and Zavier Roman.

It’s been three seasons since the three have played together, as Benjamin graduated in 2013 before taking a couple of years off. Lapham and Roman are 2015 graduates.

“We’ve been good friends for a long time, the three of us,” Lapham said. “They’re both fun to play with.”

There was a time when it didn’t appear Gonyea would have any of the players. Benjamin originally planned on playing at University of Maine at Farmington, while Lapham and Roman were to play together at Thomas College.

Circumstances brought the three together to CMCC, with some help from Gonyea’s commitment in getting them there.

“You go through it with some kids,” Gonyea said of the never-ending pursuit. “You target kids every year you think will fit your program.”

Benjamin said he didn’t like it at UMF, so he went home and took some time off from school to figure out what he wanted to do. Lapham said talking with Gonyea after a high school all-star game made him change his mind about going to Thomas.

“I was in the dunk contest there, and I got a between-the-legs dunk in, and then after that coach came up and talked to me and talked to my parents,” Lapham said. “After that, it just clicked.”

Then it was up to Lapham to bring Roman with him to CMCC.

“Levi kind of talked me into coming here,” Roman said. “I didn’t know anything about this school. I came here for an open house, and kind of fell in love with it.

“(Gonyea) seemed to show more interest in me than Thomas was, and I thought I could get more playing time here.”

Gonyea’s pursuit of Benjamin finally worked, too. Benjamin said the second he got to the Auburn campus “it just felt like family.”

It’s an unlikely reunion that is now a boon for the Mustangs.

“Maine kids are different than other kids. And those three are the example,” Gonyea said. “They’re wholesome kids. They’re great teammates. They care for each other. They care for the program. It’s what CM’s been built on all these years.

“They’re what I call true CM guys.”

Gonyea said all three are very coachable, and want to be coached. The trio, in turn, said they all like Gonyea’s fast-paced style. Call it a perfect fit.

As first-year players, all three have had to work to get minutes early in the season. Benjamin is the only starter of the three, but still only averaged 15 minutes per game over the first three games.

“I think all three of those guys are just going to get better and better and better as we go,” Gonyea said.

All three got significant playing time in a win at Unity on Tuesday. Being just a half-hour from home Gonyea gave the trio its first chance to shine in front of a “giant crowd there for them.” The three players combined for 18 points and 10 rebounds in 50 minutes.

“They were up for the occasion,” Gonyea said. “I really wanted to play them a lot so they could kind of see ‘this is what you can do if you want to.’”

“That kind of opened up my views on college basketball,” Lapham said of the Unity game. “I definitely learned really quick that it’s different.”

All three said the college game is much faster, but with Gonyea’s fast-paced system that appeals to them the trio could be on the fast track to bigger things with the Mustangs.

“I think they are as important to our team as anybody,” Gonyea said.

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