HARRISONBURG, Va. – David Cohn was playing basketball last season for William & Mary when he began to hear glowing reports about Justin Pierce, at the time a senior standout at Glenbard West.
“I really did not know anything about him. Of course last year he really blew up,” Cohn said of Pierce, who blossomed into a 23.8-points per game senior.
Now they are teammates with William & Mary, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association that lost 95-92 in overtime Feb. 16 to rival James Madison.
The Tribe trailed by 14 points in the second half before forcing overtime. Cohn had a game-high five assists, while Pierce saw action off the bench.
William & Mary won 85-64 at Delaware on Feb. 18. Cohn, a York High School graduate, had four assists, and Pierce had one assist in 10 minutes.
“At times I think he has adjusted very well,” starting junior point guard Cohn said of reserve freshman Pierce. “The game that sticks out was at Hofstra Jan. 2. He came off the bench and had 10 points in  minutes [in an overtime victory].”
“I think definitely the toughest adjustment is filling my role,” Pierce said. “In high school, you play 32 minutes [as a starter] and never come off the court. Now I am a backup to Omar [Prewitt]. ... I will be ready to expand my role next year.”
Pierce also visited Belmont and Boston University while considering his college options before choosing William & Mary.
“It had the best education of my offers,” he said.
William & Mary, 15-12 overall and 9-7 in the CAA, is looking for its first NCAA tournament berth. So too is Northwestern, which is closer to Cohn and Pierce’s original stomping grounds.
“That would be really cool,” said Cohn, who is friends with Nathan Taphorn of Northwestern. “I think we have all of the pieces. Daniel [Dixon] and Omar [Prewitt] are as good as anyone in the conference.”
The CAA tourney, with its automatic NCAA bid on the line, will be held March 3 to 6. The Tribe hosts Hofstra on Feb. 23 and Towson on Feb. 25 to end regular-season play.
“I definitely think we have a chance to make the tournament,” said Pierce, who noted his team knocked off CAA preseason favorite UNC-Wilmington by 18 points.
Pierce came off the bench in 25 of the first 27 games and averaged 11.6 minutes and 4.1 points per contest. Cohn was the only player to start the first 27 games for the Tribe and averaged 29 minutes and 5.9 points per outing with a team-high 125 assists.
“He is a great young man and I think a great young player,” William & Mary coach Tony Shaver said of Pierce. “He has probably not played the minutes he hoped for. He is playing behind a great senior in Omar Prewitt, but he is a huge part of our future.”
With 1,440 points, Pierce left as Glenbard West’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing a mark held by former Northwestern All-American John Shurna.
Now the Tribe has two players from two Chicago suburbs located less than 10 miles apart who will be part of the future.
“We recruit that Chicago area really hard,” Shaver said.