Tag: Georgia Southern Eagles

Shawn Long (Getty Images)

2014-2015 Season Preview: Georgia State is the heavy-favorite in the Sun Belt again

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R.J. Hunter (AP Photo)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

The power in the Sun Belt will once again lie in Atlanta. In 2013-2014, during just their second season in the conference, Georgia State steam-rolled through the regular season. They went 17-1 in league play and had the look of a program that was going to give some high seed nightmares. That was until they ran into Louisiana in the Sun Belt title game, blowing a nine-point lead in the final three minutes before losing in overtime.

The Panthers are looking for redemption this season, and they bring back enough talent that they should be the overwhelming favorites to get it. Ryan Harrow, who a former top 40 recruit that played at both N.C. State and Kentucky, starred for the Panthers last year. He’ll be joined in the back court by former top 50 recruit and Louisville guard Kevin Ware this season. Oh, and the best player on the team is sharpshooter R.J. Hunter. Georgia State is loaded. Period.

Shawn Long (Getty Images)

Their biggest challenger will likely be Louisiana once again. That’s because the Ragin’ Cajuns have another future NBA draft pick on their roster. Shawn Long may not be a top ten pick like Elfrid Payton was, but he is a 6-foot-10 big man that blocks a lot of shots, averaged 18.6 points and can hit threes. Oklahoma State transfer Brian Williams will provide a jolt of athleticism and toughness on the wing, but the x-factor will end up being Xavian Rimmer, a senior guard that played his best basketball late in the season and during the Sun Belt tournament.

Those two teams are probably a cut above the rest of the conference, but there are some capable teams in the league. Georgia Southern will be one to keep an eye on. There are a couple question marks — namely, how will GSU adjust to a new conference and just how long Eric Ferguson will be suspended for his offseason legal troubles — but if all goes according to plan, the Eagles return star guard Jelani Hewitt and get back a pair of former all-Southern Conference big men (Ferguson and Trent Wiedeman) who redshirted last season.

Arkansas-Little Rock loses Will Neighbour but they bring back Josh Hagins, James White and a healthy J.T. Thomas. Louisiana-Monroe loses a couple of starters, but they bring by all-league forward Tylor Ongwae. Losing a guy that averages 20 points isn’t easy to overcome, but UT Arlington‘s offense should be more balanced without Reger Dowell. Their senior back court of Lonnie McClanahan and Jamel Outler will be tough. Arkansas State lost seven of their top eight from last season. John Brady better home those new guys are ready to compete from day one.


In: Georgia Southern, Appalachian State
Out: Western Kentucky


The Sun Belt has had quite a bit of individual talent in the league over the last year or two, but Hunter is as good as any of them. That includes lottery pick Elfrid Payton. Hunter is a 6-foot-5 off-guard that is one of the best shooters in the country and capable of putting 30 on anyone.


  • Ryan Harrow, Georgia State, Sr.: Harrow thrived last season after transferring into the program from Kentucky, playing the role of point guard alongside Hunter.
  • Shawn Long, Louisiana, Jr.: Long is not only a very good college player, his ability to block shots and hit threes will get him NBA attention
  • Jelani Hewitt, Georgia Southern, Sr.: Hewitt was a big-time scorer in the SoCon for GSU last season, and his production should translate to the Sun Belt as well.
  • Tylor Ongwae, Louisiana-Monroe, Sr.: Ongwae, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 16.2 points in his first season with ULM after transferring into the program from a JuCo.



1. Georgia State
2. Louisiana
3. Georgia Southern
4. Arkansas Little-Rock
5. Louisiana-Monroe
6. UT Arlington
7. Arkansas State
8. Texas State
9. South Alabama
10. Troy
11. Appalachian State

Report: Georgia Southern forward Eric Ferguson suspended indefinitely following arrest

(Georgia Southern)
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Georgia Southern redshirt senior forward Eric Ferguson has been suspended indefinitely following a recent arrest with roommate and former teammate Brian Holmes.

According to a report from Donald Heath of the Savannah Morning News, the 6-foot-8 Ferguson and Holmes were arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of schedule II and schedule III drugs (prescription pills), possession of a firearm and possession/use of a drug-related object.

The details of the arrest were released by the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Department on its website last week.

After spending time on vacation with his family last week, Georgia Southern athletic director Tom Kleinlein came back and suspended Ferguson indefinitely. Kleinlein noted that Ferguson is still allowed to attend class and use school facilities to rehab his back. Ferguson missed last season with the back injury after averaging 15.4 points per game as a sophomore.

“Right now, (Ferguson) is not part of the team,” Kleinlein said in the report. “For me, it comes down to letting the legal process take (care) of itself and then I can make a better decision but for now, I can’t have him part of our program. That’s what happens when you make poor decisions.”

Georgia Southern joins the Sun Belt this year and the loss of Ferguson is a big one. As a sophomore the 6-foot-8 forward was an All-Southern Conference selection and the Eagles have some talent around Ferguson as well.

College of Charleston transfer forward Trent Wiedeman sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules but was also an All-Southern Conference performer earlier in his career as he averaged 12.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

Point guard Jelani Hewitt also returns after averaging 19.4 points per game last season and also earning all-league honors.

Those three would have given Georgia Southern some pieces to work with entering this season, but the loss of Ferguson could be tough to handle for the Eagles.

Georgia Southern forward Eric Ferguson arrested on drug, weapons charges

Ga Southern Virginia Tech Basketball
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Georgia Southern redshirt senior forward Eric Ferguson, who sat out all of last season after undergoing knee surgery in the spring of 2013, was one of two people arrested on various drug and weapons charges according to Jason Wermers of the Statesboro (Ga.) Herald.

Ferguson and Brian Holmes, who completed his two-year career at Georgia Southern this spring, were charged with the following offenses: possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a schedule II drug, possession of a schedule III drug, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and possession/use of a drug-related object according to the report.

…the Statesboro-Bulloch Crime Suppression Team obtained the warrant and searched an apartment at 111 South on Rucker Lane on June 26, Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson said in a news release issued Wednesday.

The search was performed after officers received complaints of “drug transactions” from the apartment, Anderson said. During the search, investigators recovered marijuana, various controlled prescription drugs and an “AR-15 style rifle,” the sheriff said.

As a junior Ferguson posted averages of 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, shooting 47.8% from the field and 32.8% from beyond the arc. With the Eagles returning leading scorer Jelani Hewitt (19.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.1 apg) and adding College of Charleston transfer Trent Wiedeman (he sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules), the return of Ferguson would be a welcome bonus for a program playing its first season in the Sun Belt.

However with this current legal issue it remains to be seen what head coach Mark Byington and athletic director Tom Kleinlein do with Ferguson. SID Barrett Gilham is quoted in the story as saying that Kleinlein wants to have a conversation with Ferguson before taking action.