Middle Tennessee has been one of the best teams in Conference USA this season, with Kermit Davis’ program once again winning 20 games and currently holding a share of first place in the league standings. Four seniors have led the way for the Blue Raiders, with forwards Shawn Jones and Neiko Hunter and guard Kerry Hammonds II all scoring in double figures.
With that group, which includes guard “Tweety” Knight, leading the way Middle Tennessee is well-positioned to earn another postseason appearance. But there’s also the need to build for next season, and Middle Tennessee has added a guard to its rotation for the 2014-15 season.
On Friday it was reported by Adam Sparks of the Daily News Journal that former Mississippi State guard Jalen Steele will join the Middle Tennessee program as a graduate transfer.
“I told Jalen he needed to look for a good fit, a school that needed a guard like him, and obviously Middle Tennessee loses (senior Kerry) Hammonds,” Steele’s high school coach, Jody Wright said. “So that’s a winning program that could use an experienced guard like Jalen. And I think he will have a big impact because he’s an SEC-caliber guard that can really shoot it on the perimeter. I think he made a good choice with Middle Tennessee.”
Last season Steele averaged 10.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, but a torn ACL meant that he would miss the 2013-14 season. Mississippi State announced that Steele’s career was over, but according to his high school coach the guard is back to full strength.
Steele joins a 2014 recruiting class that already boasted two incoming freshmen and four junior college transfers, with four of those players being perimeter players.
When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.
LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.
Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).
All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.
The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.
Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.