The 2016-2017 Texas State men’s basketball season is bringing almost a whole new team to the court. Among the few players we know and love will be eight new faces that Head Coach Daniel Kaspar believes will help the program reach its full potential.
This season will test both Kaspar and the players’ ability to adapt to change. No one is quite sure what the season will look like.
The starting rotation is on everyone’s mind since the loss of Emani Gant, Ethan Montalvo and Cameron Naylor—three big-impact starters from last season.
On Nov. 5, the team held an exhibition game against Southeastern Oklahoma State. Kaspar’s starting five were senior guard Bobby Conley, senior forward Kavin Gilder-Tilbury, junior forward Maljhum McCrea, senior guard Ojai Black, and freshman guard Nijal Pearson.
The starting five may be affected once injured players return to practice, such as the junior forward Immanuel King. King has been out of practice for three weeks now from an injury known as “Turf Toe,” while also recovering from the loss of his father.
The starting roster holds four returning players with one freshman.
The returning players will have to help lead the team. Black isn’t new to taking on leadership roles, last year he was captain and will remain in his position for his final season as a Bobcat. Kaspar mentioned that “the players respect (Black)” and that he expects Black to be the main leader on the court.
Other seniors, such as Gilder-Tilbury, Conley and McCrea have also shown their ability to guide the team and have been setting examples of what the expectations are.
The newcomers aren’t the only ones who will be nervous to get out on the hardwood. Black mentioned that the ability to continue his dream of playing basketball, and the start of the season may signal butterflies.
Although the task of transitioning from playing high school basketball to playing at the collegiate level does seem daunting, the freshmen on the Texas State roster are already surpassing that stage.
Kaspar already believes that freshmen guard Nijal Pearson may be one to look out for and even considers him “the most exciting freshman player (he’s) had.”
Both Pearson and freshmen guard Marlin Davis have already caught on quickly and will be receiving larger amounts of playing time.
Kaspar believes we will see other freshmen on the court such as Nedeljko Prijovic and Maxwell Starwood; it might just take some time to settle in.
Traveling always takes some sort of toll on a team. This year the Bobcats away and home games are pretty evenly distributed unlike in previous seasons. The team will be competing in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic Tournament in Hawaii from Nov. 11-14. They will have the chance to gain some chemistry on the court with the new faces, and get adjusted to working together against non-conference teams.