Crusader Basketball Ready For Challenging 2013
Tigerville, SC – The 2012-13 season may have ended on a sour note for the North Greenville men’s basketball team, but Crusaders are set to rise in the ranks during the 2013-14 campaign which will have the team playing its toughest regular season schedule in recent memory with a host of new faces on the court.
“We have put together one of the most challenging schedules in school history and we hope that we will be prepared for a tough Conference Carolinas’ schedule,” said head coach Chad Lister. “Our coaches did a great job of identifying a group of newcomers that fit the mission of North Greenville and can help us achieve our goals as a basketball program.”
After finishing last season just one spot out of postseason play and losing 44% of the offensive production to graduation, the Crusaders will rely on three returning starters to provide leadership and toughness on the court. Senior guards Chris Dean (26 games, 15 ppg, 7 ppg, 45.7% from the field) and Keith Johnson (26 games, 12.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 65 assists) will be counted on to provide offense for the Crusaders, while junior forward Phillip Brown (20 games, 7.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.6 bpg) will be needed as a third option and post scorer on offense and a leader of the much improved defense.
“We have three starters returning in Phil, Chris and Keith. These young men have worked extremely hard in the off season and are primed for great seasons. Their leadership to our team will be crucial to our success,” said Lister. “We should be much improved on the defensive end as well and this has been a focus for us throughout the start of practice.”
Senior guard Blake Ferguson (35 career games) and junior guard/forward James Williams (nine games in 2012-13) will also be counted on lead the team while providing production off of the bench.
Among the new faces for Lister this season will be junior transfers Micah Parker and Patrick George. Parker is a 6-1 combo guard from Louisberg College, where he helped lead the Hurricanes to a 35-2 record and a trip to the Junior College National Tournament last season and a #1 ranking in the final JUCO national poll while shooting 46.3% from three-point range. George, a 6-0 point guard from Indian River State College, led the Pioneers to a 22-7 record and a Southern Conference Tournament Title during the 2012-13 season.
“Patrick and Micah are battle-tested,” commented Lister. “We are blessed to have both of them at North Greenville and they are both in the mix for a great deal of playing time. I have been very impressed with both of these young men.”
The 2013 recruiting class will also provide the Crusaders with more size than the team has had in the past with five players standing 6’5” or taller on the roster. Among these players are red-shirt freshman Stephen Couvillion, who missed last season with a leg injury, and three freshmen forwards in Troy Blyden (6’5”, 200 lbs), Arthur Gray ((6’7”, 245 lbs) and Jai Jencks (6’8”, 230 lbs).
“Stephen has worked very hard to battle back from surgery last fall and his efforts are paying off,” said Lister. “We have a very talented freshman class. Jai is going to give us solid minutes in the post and Troy has shown he can play in the paint and be a threat on the perimeter as well. Arthur continues to improve and could give us quality minutes down low.”
“We were thin in the post last season,” Lister continued. “With Stephen taking a medical redshirt and Phil being injured late in the season, we just didn’t have enough big bodies down the stretch. Both are healthy now and a great recruiting class should enable us to be much improved with points in the paint and in the rebound margins.”
Three young guards round out the impressive 2013 recruiting class for North Greenville. Luke Edwards is a 5’11” guard from Chapin, SC where he led the Eagles of Chapin High School to the AAA State Tournament, while Blake Payne is a 6’3” guard from Ashbrook High School where he averaged 10 points and six rebounds per game as a senior. Thomas Horn is a 6’ guard from Oldsmar Christian in Florida and comes to North Greenville after having led his team in field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and three-point percentage during his senior season.
“Thomas has shot the ball well and plays with a very high basketball IQ,” Lister said. “Luke is a tough guard who wants to contribute and Blake is a newcomer who continues to improve on the perimeter.”
The Crusaders 2013-14 schedule is highlighted by participation in five tournaments, including the Conference Carolinas/Peach Belt Conference Challenge on Nov. 8-9 to open the season. The Crusaders will host Peach Belt members Georgia Southwestern State University and the University of North Georgia on back-to-back night in Hayes Gymnasium.
North Greenville will also play Peach Belt Conference member Francis Marion University twice, in both the Lees-McRae Classic on Nov. in Banner Elk, NC and again in the FIT Christmas Classic on Dec. 21 in Melbourne, FL.
A few exhibition matches also highlight the Crusader schedule as Lister has placed four NCAA Division I opponents on the schedule, including Furman University, The Citadel, Appalachian State University and USC Upstate.
With a Conference Carolinas' schedule that is just as tough as ever, the Crusaders will use senior leadership and athleticism to prove that they will indeed be battle-tested.