Josie Howell, Sports Editor
On Tuesday, Sept. 24, Gamecock fans were excited to find out that basketball season was right around the corner when they learned that the men’s basketball team had officially began practice for the 2019-2020 season. The Gamecocks road came to an end last season in the OVC Championship semi-finals. This matchup was a nailbiter against Murray State that ended in a score of 74-76.
The Gamecocks finished with an OVC record of 15-3 and an impressive overall record of 24-9. This was their third year in a row with a 20-win record.
They hope to continue this streak in the upcoming season. With players from last year’s successful season and new talent added to the 2019-2020 roster, the Gamecocks have an exciting year ahead of them.
“The team is fairly new, we have a lot of transfers and a lot of freshmen. They have been great [so far]. We don’t have to coach attitude or anything like that,” said Head Coach Ray Harper.
Players returning from the 2018-2019 season include starter and redshirt senior Ty Hudson, senior Jacara Cross, redshirt junior Derek St. Hilaire and sophomores Maros Zeliznak and De‘Torrion Ware. The team is looking up to seniors Hudson and Cross to lead the team this season.
“Jacara has been in the program for four years, and Ty has been with us now for three,” said Harper. “These guys have done it and know what our expectations are. Ty has been terrific. I couldn’t ask for any more out of him, and Jacara is primed for a big senior year. He has played well for us, behind the some really good players at that position, and now it’s his turn.”
Last season, Hudson brought in over 800 minutes of playing time and started in all 33 games of the season, being the only member of the team to do so. He also ranked second in assists with a total of 89, came in third on his team in points with 323 and ended the season with 28 double-digit scoring games.
Cross started five games and appeared in all 33 in the 2018-2019 season. He was one of just four Gamecocks to appear in all 33 games. Cross also had an impressive .697 shooting percentage for the season and an average of 4.1 points per game.
Out of the eight players added to the Gamecocks 2019-2020 roster, a few to keep an eye out for are junior guard Derrick Cook, junior guard/forward Kayne Henry and junior forward Martin Roub who is an incredible six feet and ten inches tall. While all of the new players added to the team have undeniable talent, these are the players that have impressive stats from their career prior to JSU.
Cook is a transfer from Georgia Highlands College in Rome Georgia. He averaged 13.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4 assists per contest in the 31 games of the 2018-2019 season. He recorded double-digit points in 25 matchups and scored 20 or more points on four different occasions.
Henry is a Northwest Florida State transfer who appeared in 31 games for the Raiders, shooting an impressive 50.8 percent and 40 percent from 3-point range, averaging 5.7 points per game. Henry also recorded 2.5 rebounds per game and blocked 15 shots for the 2018-2019 season.
Roub is a Czech Republic native who transferred from Western Nebraska. He started 31 of 32 games as a sophomore with the Cougars. He totaled an impressive 538 points and averaged 31.8 minutes per game in the 2018-2019 season. Roub also scored a career-high 29 points against Laramie County Community College.
The Jacksonville State men’s basketball team will host their exhibition game at the Pete Mathews Coliseum against the Montevallo Falcons on Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m.
For those who want to keep up with the action but cannot attend can tune into 91.9 WLJS FM and listen to Mike Parris give a live play-by-play of the game.