Tigerville, S.C. - The NGU men's basketball team opens up its season tonight, looking to make a run at another Conference Carolinas Championship.
The Crusaders reached heights it has never experienced before last season, earning the school's first Conference Carolinas Championship (in any sport) en route to the first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Crusaders experienced an early exit as Regional Host, Lincoln Memorial earned a 95-62 win. The experience was nice, but head coach Chad Lister and his crew are looking to improve on last season's success.
NGU enters the 2015-2016 season looking to fill some empty roles after returning just one full time starter from last season's championship squad. McElroy is by far the most experienced player on the team as he played in 32 games last season with 31 starts. The senior point guard led NGU with 394 points. He was also a terror on defense as he collected a squad leading 44 steals, placing him seventh in Conference Carolinas. The clever ball handler also did his fair share of distributing the ball as he was fourth in the league with 130 assists.
The other four positions for NGU are open for competition after the departures of Phil Brown, Micah Parker, Spencer Reaves, and Lashawn Alexander, who combined to make 128 starts, scoring 1,638 points. Jai Jencks, Troy Blyden, and Chris Brown look to fill some of the void while transfers Kriston Beasley and Justin Dotson look to add stability to the lineup.
Jai Jenks will fill the block for the Crusaders this season after seeing action in 31 games as a sophomore. The athletic junior collected 70 rebounds last season and scored 112 points, but was a force on the inside with 24 blocks. Chris Brown and Troy Blyden also add quality playing experience to the mix. Brown and Blyden played in at least 30 of NGU's 32 games last season, earning valuable experience off the bench. Brown scored 120 points while Blyden turned in 101 points and 57 rebounds.
Lister will also receive some help from a pair of transfers this season in Kriston Beasley and Justin Dotson. Beasley averaged 25 points per game in high school and took his talents to Wallace State Community College. Beasley earned a second team all-conference nod while with the Lions, averaging 11 points a game.
Justin Dotson is a transfer from Stephen F. Austin, but is no stranger to the state of South Carolina as he is a local product from D.W. Daniel High School in Central. He is a 2x state champion in high school where he averaged 26 points. He garnered All-Region and All-State honors while also being named Region Player of the Year as a senior. Dotson was also a part of back to back Southland Conference Championships and back to back appearances in the NCAA DI tournament in his two season at Stephen F. Austin.
The Crusaders were picked sixth in this year's pre-season coaches poll, voted on by league head coaches. North Greenville opens the season today versus Coker College in the South Atlantic/Conference Carolinas Tournament. The Crusaders and Cobras will tipoff around 4pm at Erskine College.