Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tigerville, SC – After graduating five seniors, including the program’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, the North Greenville University men’s basketball team is looking for fresh new faces to make an impact during the 2012-13 season.

Following a 2011-12 season in which the Crusaders finished 12-15 overall and 5-11 in the inaugural season in Conference Carolinas, North Greenville said goodbye to one of the most successful senior classes in program history. Gone from last season’s team are Paul Harrison, the team’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, Jason Wray, Jonathon Bozymowski, Zack Shields and Luke Lattimer. The group accounted for 61.4 percent of the team’s offense last season, while three of the five stood 6’4” or taller.

“We will certainly miss our five seniors from last year,” said head coach Chad Lister. “It was an amazing group of young men who won 50 games in the last three season, including a 22-win season, the best mark in school history.”

To replace these familiar faces on the court, Lister, assistant coach Jimmie Williams and graduate assistant Josh Milner have recruited a group of eight young men to provide depth and skill on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

Senior transfer Tyshawn Patterson is expected to move into the starting role and provide an immediate scoring threat after spending three years at Division I Stetson University where started 23 games over the course of his career, while fellow transfer Keith Johnson is a quality outside shooter who will give the offense an immediate spark anytime he is on the court. Freshman AJ Clements is one of the top on-ball defenders on the team and will see quality minutes as a freshman, while fellow freshman DJ Vereen is an athletic post player who excels in transition and is expected to battle for a starting spot.

Among the other new faces on the team this year are sophomore transfer James Williams and freshman Chase Crain. Both players play with a great deal of energy and provide the team with depth at a variety of positions. Freshmen Stephen Couvillion and Derrick Taylor will each receive a medical redshirt due to injuries suffered during the offseason.

“Coach Williams and Coach Milner have worked extremely hard in bringing in a great recruiting class,” said Lister. “I could not be happier with this group of young men that represent North Greenville and our program every day. Our fans will enjoy watching our new style of play this season.”

In addition to the eight newcomers, the Crusaders return seven players from last season’s team including five upperclassmen. Junior guard Chris Dean will look to become the team’s go-to offensive threat after averaging a career-high 16.4 points on 54.2 percent shooting from the floow and 5.3 rebounds per game last season.

Senior guard Tim Franklin is again expected to be the floor leader and run the offense after leading the Crusaders with 4.8 assists per game while also leading the team in steals per game with 1.7 in 2011-12. Fellow seniors Jimmy Ellis (6.9 points per game, 52 three-pointers made) and Jamaal Pryor (4.7 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game) are both expected to provide depth and quality minutes off of the bench, while junior Blake Ferguson (15 points in nine games played) will continue to give depth and experience to the team.

Sophomore guard Wesley Armbrust returns after averaging 1.8 points per game and 1.4 rebounds per game in 12 games last season, while sophomore forward Phillip Brown returns after a redshirt season in 2011-12 to provide size (6’ 7”,230 lbs) and another outside shooter . As a freshman in 2010-11, Brown played in 26 games, averaging 3.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 50 percent from the floor.

“Traditionally we have been one of the top teams in the country in field-goal percentage and need that to continue,” said Lister of what this team will need to be successful. “Our biggest changes will be tempo and defensive intensity. If we show great improvement in these two areas we will have a chance to win every time we step on the floor.”

The Crusaders, picked to finish 11th overall in the Conference Carolinas Preseason Poll, will open their season on Friday, Nov. 9 when they host the Eagles of Toccoa Falls College at 7 p.m. in Hayes Gymnasium.