On the heels of a freshman season in which he won Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year honors, guard Tayler Persons made the decision to leave Northern Kentucky following the firing of head coach Dave Bezold. Friday evening the Indiana native announced his next college stop, as he’s decided to play for James Whitford at Ball State.
In his lone season as a member of the NKU program Persons averaged 13.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 43.6 percent from the field. Persons will have three seasons to play after sitting out the 2015-16 season per NCAA transfer rules.
Persons is essentially the first piece to Ball State’s 2016 recruiting class, and he’s an important one as the Cardinals have to account for the fact that guards Jeremiah Davis III (rising senior) and junior college transfer Naiel Smith are both upperclassmen. Francis Kiapway, who made 20 starts and averaged 6.6 points per game as a freshman, will be a sophomore next season.
In addition to Ball State, Persons held an offer from Xavier with Purdue showing some interest before landing graduate student Johnny Hill earlier this week.
Ball State freshman Jeremie Tyler, the team’s third leading scorer, is done for the remainder of the 2014-15 season, ruled academically ineligible for the semester.
“This is a tough lesson for Jeremie to learn during his freshman year, but I am confident he will rebound from it,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said in the statement, via the Muncie Star-Press. “Jeremie can still have a really bright future at Ball State. While we are disappointed we will have to play without him this semester, we expect him to grow from this setback.”
Tyler, the 6-foot-2 guard from Indianapolis, was averaging 12.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game for the Cardinals.
While Tyler is sidelined, Whitford will have another guard at his disposal to fill the void. Jeremiah Davis III, the Cincinnati transfer, has been cleared to play, according to Ben Breiner of the Star-Press. The 6-foot-4 Davis, who averaged 5.5 points per game as a sophomore with the Bearcats, has yet to play this season after breaking a bone in his right foot in October.
Ball State has a current record of 4-6 with the final game before MAC play on Saturday afternoon against Bethune-Cookman.
Ball State will move on without a big man as redshirt sophomore Mading Thok will transfer out of the program. The move was announced in a release by Cardinal head coach James Whitford.
“We want to thank Mading for his time at Ball State,” Whitford said in the release. “Mading is an outstanding person whose contributions off the court and in the locker room will be sincerely missed.”
The 6-foot-11 Thok played sparingly throughout his Ball State career and didn’t get a lot of burn early this season. Thok averaged 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game on 66 percent shooting in four games in 2014-15.
“He is looking for an opportunity for more playing time and feels it is in his best interest to transfer to a Division II program,” Whitford said. “We completely support Mading as he goes through this process and wish him the best in the future.”
Although he didn’t prove much at Ball State, Thok has legitimate size and could find his way to a lower level program and see more playing time.