James Whitford

Northern Kentucky v Nebraska

Reigning A-Sun Freshman of the Year transferring to Ball State

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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’s freshman ruled academically ineligible for the semester, Cincinnati transfer cleared to play

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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 sophomore big man will transfer

Mading Thok, Derrick Wilson
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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.

Ball State suspends reigning MAC Freshman of the Year indefinitely

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Ball State will be without sophomore guard Zavier Turner, as head coach James Whitford announced that the starter has been suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

The 5-foot-9 Turner is the reigning MAC Freshman of the Year after averaging 12.1 points and 3.7 assists per game last season.

Losing Turner will be a big loss for the Cardinals, as the guard has looked a lot more efficient in two Ball State games this season. Turner only shot 38 percent from the field last season but was taking smarter shots as he upped his field goal percentage to 52 percent through a couple outings.

Without Turner in the line-up, Ball State will likely turn to freshman guard Jeremie Tyler to keep producing like he has been so far while sophomore walk-on guard Kaleb Mallory will likely also see additional time.

This is the second key player from the MAC to be suspended this week as Akron suspended senior forward Demetrius Treadwell indefinitely as he’s being investigated for domestic assault.

Foot injury to sideline Ball State guard eight to ten weeks

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As Ball State looks to rebound from a 6-25 campaign in its first season under head coach James Whitford, one of the players expected to help out on the perimeter was junior guard Jeremiah Davis III. Davis, who transferred in from Cincinnati, didn’t see much playing time as a Bearcat but that was expected to change at Ball State.

Unfortunately for Davis and the Cardinals, a right foot injury has derailed those plans.

Davis suffered the injury Tuesday, with Whitford announcing the following day that the 6-foot-3 guard would be sidelined eight to ten weeks following surgery. The injury represents the latest setback for Davis, who according to the Associated Press transferred back to his hometown school after a house fire displaced his family.

“Jeremiah has had to deal with adversity recently, and this is another challenge,” Ball State head basketball coach James Whitford said in a statement. “He is a very strong young man, and he will attack this injury the same way he does everything: with a positive attitude and determination. He will be back, and we will be even stronger as a team when he returns because of the experience our younger players will gain while he is out.”

Ball State will be a young team this season, with sophomores Zavier Turner (MAC Freshman of the Year in 2013-14) and Francko House leading the way amongst the returnees. The Cardinals lost five seniors from last year’s team, including their leading scorer (Chris Bond- 12.2 ppg) and leading rebounder (Majok Majok- 10.0 rpg).

Mark Alstork, Quinten Payne to leave Ball State program

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Thursday afternoon Ball State head coach James Whitford announced that two guards, Mark Alstork and Quinten Payne, have been granted permission to seek a transfer. Both players were freshmen this season, with Alstork playing in 30 games (15 starts) and Payne 29 (two starts).

Alstork, a 6-foot-4 guard/forward from Dayton, Ohio, averaged 5.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in 2013-14. The 6-foot-5 Payne played just under 12 minutes per contest in his debut season, scoring 1.8 points per game.

“We want to thank Mark and Quinten for their time here at Ball State,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said in the release. “They did an excellent job representing our university, both on and off the court. We support their decisions to find new schools, and we wish them the best going forward.”

In addition to Alstork and Payne the Cardinals lose six seniors, including guard Jesse Berry (11.2 ppg), forward Chris Bond (12.2, 5.9 rpg) and forward/center Majok Majok (11.2, 10.0). Ball State’s four-member recruiting class includes two guards in 6-foot-3 Francis Klapway and 6-foot-2 Jeremie Tyler, and one of the MAC’s top freshmen in guard Zavier Turner (12.1 ppg) will return next season.

Ball State finished the 2013-14 season with an overall record of 5-25, going 2-16 in MAC play.