|JCSU opens new era|
|Golden Bulls adjust without All-American|
|Published Thursday, November 7, 2013 7:15 am|
Johnson C. Smith basketball returns four of five starters from last season’s 16-11 team but is missing a chunk of scoring and leadership.
Otherwise, it’s business as usual.
The Golden Bulls, who start the season Nov. 8 against Morehouse in the HBCU Basketball Challenge in Atlanta, are adjusting to the post-Trevin Parks era. The all-America guard led JCSU in scoring each of the past three seasons, including a CIAA-best 25 per game last year, but Golden Bulls coach Steve Joyner is looking for a team effort to pick up the slack.
“Trevin was a prolific scorer and an outstanding ball player to come through our program, but we’re moving forward and striving towards greatness,” said Joyner, who is in his 27th season as head coach of the Golden Bulls men’s basketball program with a school-record 465 wins.
“We have an experienced ball club with guys that have played together and continue to progress each year. Our challenge is the maturation process for our young men on the court and as leaders.”
The Golden Bulls faltered down the stretch last year with four straight losses to finish 16-11 with a quarterfinal loss in the CIAA tournament.
This year’s team has experience and depth. JCSU returns four starters, including all-CIAA forward Emilio Parks, who averaged 15.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game playing with his back to the basket. He led the league in field goal percentage at 65.4 percent (166-of-254) and topped JCSU in rebounds with 6.7 per game.
Joyner said Emilio Parks has refined his mid-range jumper to create more matchup problems, but the Golden Bulls will lack the size to pound opponents inside. As a result, seniors Antwan Wilkerson and Robert Williams will need to step up on both ends of the floor.
Wilkerson, who started 18 of 27 games as a junior, averaged 7.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Williams, who started 22 games, averaged 10.3 points per contest.
Markel Lotharp, a 6-7 forward who sat out last season for academics “is a talent who can contribute significantly to the program,” Joyner said.
Point guard is a concern. Richard Daniels returns, but Patrell Rogers, an all-state player from South Carolina, could be a possibility. Williams, who will start at shooting guard, could move over in a pinch while Joshua Linson, a CIAA all-rookie pick who averaged 4.1 points per game last season, will figure prominently on the wing. LaMarquis Letchaw, a transfer from Dallas, Texas, could be in the mix, especially if he proves himself on defense.
Alandre Davis, a 6-9 sophomore, played sparingly last year but adds depth and defense at the pivot.
The home opener is Nov. 15-16 at the JCSU Claude Saunders/Wendy’s Tip-off Classic at Brayboy Gym with Allen (S.C.), Lees-McRae and Livingstone.
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