Last season Towson head coach Pat Skerry and then-Marshall head coach Tom Herrion, who’s now an assistant at Georgia Tech, began an initiative in college basketball geared towards supporting those who have autism and their families. The cause is a personal one for both coaches, as they’re raising children who are on the autism spectrum.
This weekend coaches across the country are participating in the “Coaches Powering Forward for Autism” campaign, and they’ll be wearing a blue puzzle piece lapel pin. Friday, Towson announced that its basketball team will wear special light blue uniforms for its game Saturday against James Madison.
Saturday’s game is Towson’s annual Autism Awareness Game. According to the Autism Speaks website, one in every 68 children (one in every 42 boys) is diagnosed on the autism spectrum. For this weekend, the goal of raising $6,800 per school (representing the 1:68 ratio) has been set.
After winning 25 games last season the Towson Tigers will look to take the next step in 2014-15. Pat Skerry’s team will have to do so without outstanding forward Jerrelle Benimon, who after winning CAA Player of the Year honors is out of eligibility. Accounting for the production lost due to the departures of their top three scorers (Benimon, Marcus Damas and Mike Burwell) will be the focus in 2014-15, and there’s also the need to add recruits who can help the program in the future.
Sunday night Towson landed its first commitment in the Class of 2015, with 6-foot-9 power forward Alex Thomas verbally committing to the CAA program according to multiple outlets. Thomas currently attends prep school at Coastal Academy in New Jersey, after having graduated from Hawthorne Christian HS last year.
Towson just scored a pledge from Alex Thomas, of the NJ Playaz, per a source. Took 14 charges at Peach Jam.
As noted in the tweet above Thomas played for the Playaz Basketball Club this summer, and that roster included prospects such as Isaiah Briscoe, Temple Gibbs and Delaware commit Elijah Cain. Thomas wasn’t asked to much from a scoring standpoint due to the presence of those players, instead serving as a solid defender and rebounder for a team that would go on to win the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam.
“Coach [Pat] Skerry and how much he cares about about his players, along with their occupational therapy program, is what made me choose Towson,” Thomas said. “I think I bring a skilled four man with good passing that can stretch the defense, rebound, and play good post defense along with protecting the rim.”
Among the front court players on the Towson roster who will have eligibility remaining when Thomas arrives on campus are juniors Timajh Parker-Rivera and Arnaud Williams Adala Moto (Wake Forest transfer who will sit out this season) and sophomores John Davis and Walter Foster. Of the three who were part of the Towson program last season Parker-Rivera, who started all 36 games, was the most productive player.
Parker-Rivera played just over 25 minutes per contest, averaging 6.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
It goes without saying that in order to beat the Towson Tigers the first order of business is to slow down forward Jerrelle Benimon. In Towson’s 80-68 win over Drexel on January 14 the preseason CAA Player of the Year was outstanding, accounting for 27 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. Clearly Benimon was going to be at the top of Drexel’s scouting report for Saturday’s rematch.
Unfortunately for the Dragons there were unable to slow down Benimon, who accounted for 25 points and eight rebounds in Towson’s 75-73 victory. Benimon made eight of his 12 field goal attempts and shot 9-for-11 from the foul line, leading the way for a Towson team that shot 57.5% from the field on the day. Also scoring in double figures for Pat Skerry’s Tigers were Rafriel Guthrie, who scored 18 points off the bench, and starter Marcus Damas (16 points).
Frantz Massenat led four Drexel players in double figures with 18 points, but fellow starter Chris Fouch (ten points) shot just 3-for-13 from the field. Towson moved to 5-2 in CAA play with the win, remaining two games behind Delaware (8-0) in the loss column.