Tigerville, SC – After recording a 22-7 record in 2010, the best in team history, the North Greenville men’s basketball team enters its first season as a member of Conference Carolinas ranked ninth overall in the pre season coaches poll and fourth in the Western Division with a renewed energy and great level of experience.
“As a team, we have a good nucleus returning,” said head coach Chad Lister. “We will lean heavily on our seniors for leadership on and off the floor.”
The Crusaders return five seniors from last year’s squad that finished second in the NCCAA South Regional Tournament.
Among the returning seniors is the reigning two-time NCAA Division II Independent Player of the Year, Paul Harrison who led the team with 18.4 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game on 61.2% shooting from the field.
The other seniors returning for Coach Lister include Luke Lattimer, the team’s second-leading scorer in 2010 with 10.4 points per game, and Jonathan Bozymowski, who is the Crusaders most versatile player in terms of being involved of every area of play. In 2010, Bozymowski average 5.4 points per game on 50% shooting from the floor and 41.9% shooting from beyond the arc along with 2.8 rebounds per game and 2.2 assists per game.
Seniors Jason Wray and Zack Shields will be relied on for production off the bench and with opportunities to be in the starting lineup. Wray, the Crusaders emotional leader, average 4.1 points per game on 51.1% percent shooting from the floor, while three-point specialist Shields overcame early season injuries to finish with 6.1 points per game on 42.7% shooting from long range.
“Obviously our seniors will dictate our success. Paul is a tremendous post presence. He has the potential to be one of the premier players in our conference. I have been very impressed with his off-season work,” said Lister. “ If Lattimer can stay healthy, he will have an opportunity to turn heads in our league. Shields, Bozymowski, and Wray continue to be very steady for us. Their effort and leadership is tremendous.”
Other returning players who will be counted on for immediate impact include starting point guard Tim Franklin and reserves Jamaal Pryor, Jimmy Ellis and Chris Dean.
Franklin is the team’s unquestioned floor leader on offense and dictates the tempo of the defense on the majority of the possessions. During last season’s campaign, Franklin average 6.3 points per game and a team-high 4.1 assists per game. He also lead the team with 1.6 steals per game, while pulling down 3.6 rebound per game.
Juniors Pryor and Ellis provide sparks for the Crusaders in two opposite areas of the floor. Pryor is a low post presence who has consistently improved in his first two years and in 2010 averaged 7.7 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting a team-high 61.7% from the floor. Ellis is another long range shooter that will come off the bench and provide a energy boost on offense as he finished last season with a career-high 7.1 points per game on 41.4% shooting from three-point range.
Dean, a member of the 2010 NCAA Division II All-Freshman team, averaged 7 points per game on 48.8% shooting from the floor and 2.2 rebounds per game.
“Chris Dean really came on strong at the end of last season. He will have an opportunity to be a major contributor this season. Freshmen Vincent Lewis and Wesley Armbrust are two new faces to our program that have a chance to make an early impact. Both have done good things in the pre-season,” said Lister. “I would not trade any of our 16 roster spots. They have all worked very hard to get to this point. We would love to make a run at the conference title in our first year as a member of Conference Carolinas. “
As a team, the Crusaders will focus on making the most of their offensive opportunities and look to improve on the defensive end of the floor against much tougher competition in the new conference. Should the team do all these things and continue to play to their full potential, success will find its way to Tigerville.