LEWISBURG, Pa. – A pair of recent Bucknell men’s basketball alumni have signed professional contracts overseas. Bryson Johnson ‘13 inked his first professional contract with the Fraport Skyliners in the German ProB division, while Bryan Cohen ‘12 will be headed back to Israel to play with Hod Hasharon. Johnson now joins classmates Mike Muscala and Joe Willman in the pro ranks. Muscala is playing in Spain, while Willman is in the Czech Republic.
A two-year co-captain, Johnson graduated last May as the most prolific 3-point shooter in Bucknell and Patriot League history. He made 323 career 3-pointers, including a record 99 as a sophomore, and he ranked 10th on Bucknell's career scoring list with 1,384 points.
The Pictou, Nova Scotia native was a talented shooter from day one at Bucknell -- he hit six 3-pointers against Mercer in the first game of his freshman year – and he helped lead the Bison to three straight Patriot League regular-season titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Johnson also improved his defense significantly throughout his career. As a senior he was one of the team's top perimeter defenders and also led the team in assists (79) for the first time.
Fraport Skyliners are based out of Frankfurt, Germany and posted a 4-9 record before the holiday break. Among the team’s foreign players are fellow Canadian and Syracuse alum Andy Rautins and former La Salle star Ramon Galloway, against whom Johnson competed during his career. Johnson will start out with the Skyliners reserve team as he looks to work his way into the lineup.
Cohen played last season with Maccabi Haifa in Israel’s first division. He played in 15 games as a reserve and totaled 13 points. With his new team in the second division Cohen has already appeared in two games, scoring 11 points in his debut on New Year’s Eve.
Cohen was a four-year starting guard who helped lead the Bison to back-to-back 25 win seasons and Patriot League titles, including an NCAA appearance in 2011 and an NIT appearance in 2012. He was the Patriot League Defensive Player of Year in 2010, 2011 and 2012, making him the only player in league history to win the same major award three times and just the seventh in any Division I conference to win a defensive MVP honor three times.
The Huntingdon Valley, Pa., native earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors as a senior. He broke the school record with 130 career games played and never missed a game in four years while averaging just under 30 minutes per contest. He scored 1,102 career points to rank 25th on Bucknell's all-time scoring list, while his 313 career assists rank eighth in program history.
Prior to turning pro, Cohen had some familiarity with basketball in Israel, having competed there twice in the Maccabiah Games. In the summer of 2009, he played for coach Bruce Pearl on the United States team that won the gold medal. Cohen scored in double figures in 4 of 6 games at that tournament, with a high of 18 points against Russia.
Bucknell’s all-time leading scorer and a two-time Patriot League Player of the Year, Muscala was a second-round draft pick (44th overall) of the Atlanta Hawks last summer, and while the Hawks maintain his NBA rights, Muscala is playing his first pro season with Blusens Monbus Obradoiro in the competitive Spanish first division.
Muscala is currently leading the league in rebounding (8.2 rpg) and he ranks ninth in scoring (13.9 ppg). He had a 20-point, 11 rebound game just after Christmas, and he is shooting 49 percent from the field and 87 percent from the free-throw line on the season.
Willman is a starter and the leading scorer for BK Nova Hut Ostrava in the Czech Republic. He is averaging 14.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 20 games this season. Willman has scored in double figures in every game, including two 20-point performances.
More than a dozen Bucknell graduates have continued their hoops careers in the pro ranks in recent years, including active players Muscala, Willman, Johnson, Cohen, Chris McNaughton, Bryan Bailey and Davorin Skornik.