Tiger Basketball: 2014-2015 Season Preview

Lucas Miller | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Lucas Miller | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

It’s that time of year again, Tiger Nation. Sneakers squeaking, balls bouncing, coaches yelling and nets snapping; it’s basketball season. The Brother John Wills Arena has been quiet to outsiders for the past eight months, but players and coaches have been putting in the hours in the off-season to make this year an absolute success. It will be a relatively new group of players this year for Head Coach Kevin Klein, as he will have to replace six outstanding seniors, but I believe they are up for the challenge. Let’s take a look at how St. X stacks up.

2013-2014 Season At A Glance

Record: 21-9 (3-0 in District Play)

Last Game: Loss against Trinity at Bellarmine University, Regional Tournament 1st Round (St. X 40 Trinity 51)

Leading Scorer: Robert Shaw (Sr.) 17.4 PPG; 521 Total Points; 45% FG

Leading Rebounder: Ashanti Burgess (Jr.) 4.0 RPG ; 121 Total Rebounds

The 2014-2015 Roster

# Name (F) Name (L) Position Height Weight Year
3 Alex Hulse PG 5’7 155 JR
4 Connor Knight PG 5’11 169 JR
5 Connor McKim PG 6’1 160 JR
11 Ashanti Burgess PG, SG 6’1 170 SR
15 Nick Kitchen SG, SF 6’2 180 SR
21 Josh Rudy PG, SG, SF 6’0 185 SR
22 Billy Basham SF, PF 6’1 185 JR
24 Daniel Ryan PF, C 6’5 215 JR
31 Lucas Miller SF, PF 6’3 197 SR
32 William Olsen SG, SF 6’2 191 JR
34 Austin Brian PF, C 6’5 200 JR
35 C.J. Shanklin PG, PF, C 6’3 175 SR

Key Losses

G Robert Shaw (Sr.) (Signed with Southwest Baptist University)

Shaw will be the biggest loss for the Tigers as he moves on to play Division II basketball at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. Shaw joined a group of select players to score 1,000 career points at St. X last season and led the team in points and assists. He will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the best to ever don a green and gold uniform.

G Austin Chambers (Sr.)

Known for his scrappy playing style and endless energy, Chambers will be dearly missed in the Tiger backcourt this season. Chambers was among the team leaders in steals (52) and free throw percentage (74%) a year ago. He wasn’t afraid to put his modest 5’9 frame on the line inside either, pulling down 70 boards. He also recorded 74 assists, good for second on the team. A true hustle player who worked tirelessly for four years, Chambers may be replaced physically, but his spirit and intensity will be extremely tough to match.

– F Malik Carr (Sr.) (Signed to play football with Morehead State University)

Carr was one of those players that caused people to ask “What?” when they picked up the stat sheet after a game. He may not have pulled down 15 rebounds every game or scored double digit points consistently, but he touched nearly every column in the box score. The Tigers will miss Carr’s production in the low post this season as he continues on to play football for Morehead State University.

F Andrew McCormick (Sr.) (Signed to play football with Dayton University)

There are few men skilled enough to attempt to call themselves three-sport athletes. McCormick not only attempted to do so, but he excelled while doing it. A well-documented star, McCormick was a stud at inside linebacker for the Football Tigers and a State Champion outfielder for the baseball team. On top of all that, he served as a key contributor on the basketball squad doing whatever Coach Klein asked. McCormick’s heady play will be tough to replace.

F Andrew Marquess (Jr.)

Marquess would have been the go-to man in the frontcourt this season for the Tigers, but he has decided not to play his senior season due to nagging shoulder injuries. His post scoring, rebounding, and defensive presence will be dearly missed. This season will be played in part for Marquess. Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.

F Tyler Boarman (Jr.)

 An often called-on reserve last year, senior Tyler Boarman has decided not to rejoin the basketball team this year. Boarman provided fantastic outside-shooting, toughness, and intangibles that you just don’t see very often.  He would have been an integral piece on this year’s team.

Key Returners

G Ashanti Burgess (Sr.)

It won’t be easy to replace Shaw’s sheer production from a year ago, but if there’s anyone who can do it, it’s Burgess. He was the perfect complement to Shaw on the wing, and has the necessary experience to shine, as he has been earning varsity minutes since he was a sophomore. There’s no questioning Burgess’ work ethic or leadership abilities. In addition to putting in countless hours with the team this offseason, he has been working with a personal trainer three days a week to improve his ball handling and ball control as he makes the transition to being a more ball-dominant player. Burgess was second in points last season with 365 total and 12.2 per game. He doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty either, returning as the team’s leading rebounder. Nothing fazes this guy, and he will be vital to the Tigers’ success.

F Lucas Miller (Sr.)

Miller returns to his starting role in 2014 and looks to improve upon last season’s success. He will need to up his production from a season ago with Shaw and Carr departing, but his versatility is off the charts. He will be one of the first options in the high post. Miller will be used heavily in scoring situations and is a serious threat from long range, which will keep defenses honest and help free up his teammates for easy looks at the basket. Don’t be surprised if Miller delivers a few rim-rocking slams in Br. John Wills Arena while he shows off his jaw-dropping athleticism, either. Miller will have a huge impact on both ends of the court this season.

G/F William Olsen (Jr.)

William Olsen opened many eyes in a very impressive sophomore campaign last year and looks to earn a starting job this year next to Miller in the frontcourt. With his 6’2 frame and polished jumper, Olsen can spread out a defense or collapse it in tight and kick it back out for high percentage shots. He has a wide variety of abilities on offense and can put it on the floor if he needs to. Olsen will need to log some major minutes this year, as he will be leaned on heavily throughout the season.

New Faces

These players have all been part of the program for multiple years, but they will be getting their first meaningful varsity minutes this season.  Let’s meet them.

– G/F/C  C.J. Shanklin (Sr.)

Shanklin hasn’t been healthy for a full season since he was a freshman. A broken finger sophomore year and a torn ACL junior year have kept Shanklin off the court for much of the last two seasons. Now healthy, he will surely open eyes with a tantalizing blend of size, strength, and athleticism. Shanklin is 6’3” and has unbelievable ball skills. His natural position would be as a point guard, but C.J. can play all five positions comfortably. He will most likely play a lot down low because this team lacks size. This season will be a major coming out party for Shanklin as he finally gets to unveil his talent to Tiger Nation.

G/F Josh Rudy (Sr.)

Rudy has been a loyal bench player for the Tigers for the past two seasons and will finally get his chance to contribute significantly this season. At 6’0 185 lbs., Rudy is a big guard that can use his body to overpower smaller defenders. Don’t let that size deceive you though, because he can blow by his defender and get to the cup with ease. Starting or coming off the bench, Rudy will be a big factor in the Tigers rotation this season.

G Connor McKim (Jr.)

Poised, confident and fearless are perfect words to describe the junior point guard. McKim is always dangerous with the ball in his hands and has a high basketball IQ. He will be important in relieving Burgess and Rudy this season.

F/C Austin Brian (Jr.)

With the team’s glaring lack of size, Brian will be a big factor this season.  He will most likely start out slow, as he is nursing a torn ligament in his right foot now, but once he gets back to full speed, watch out.  He has great post skills and is really comfortable operating on the perimeter for a big man.  He will be a lethal weapon in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop scenarios.

G/F Nick Kitchen (Sr.)

Kitchen missed almost all of last season with a broken right ankle, but he is 100% now and will be an impact player for the Tigers this season.  He has an uncanny feel for the game; he always seems to find the right spots on the court to make himself available. He combines deceptive athleticism with a silky-smooth mid-range game in a dangerous offensive package.

F Billy Basham (Jr.)

If anyone can fill the “emotional anchor” void left by Chamber’s graduation, it’s Basham.  His game is almost identical to that of past coach favorites Chambers and Christian Hardy.  Basham is a gritty forward that plays with an attitude, and he will do whatever his team needs at any given moment; he will be as likely a candidate as any on this team to take a charge or dive on the floor for a loose ball.  He is the prototypical “3 and D” frontcourt player that will spread the floor on offense while hounding his defensive assignment everywhere on the floor.

F/C Daniel Ryan (Jr.)

This junior is just unflappable; you will never see Ryan’s emotion change, regardless of how well he is playing.  His big frame will be valuable on this small team, and he will be a big box score contributor.  His calling card is rebounding; he has tremendous technique and lower body strength that he uses to carve out space underneath the rim.  He also has fantastic basketball IQ and will be a technician on the offensive end.  Ryan is simply a smart and sound player.  He makes the necessary play no flash or frills attached.

Projected Starting Lineup

PG – Ashanti Burgess

SG – Nick Kitchen

SF – Josh Rudy

PF – Lucas Miller

C – C.J. Shanklin

 


Coach Kevin Klein has an outstanding collection of talent on his hands this year, and I fully expect that he will extract everything iota of potential he can out of them. I have confidence that the Tigers will contend with Will Parker, Brandon Horne and the rest of a talented Male squad for the District Championship and make a deep run into the State Tournament. It may take a few games to iron out the kinks and develop strong team chemistry, but once the season is in full stride, watch out. Let’s buckle up and get ready for an exciting season. I’ll see you all at Rupp in March, Tiger Nation.

Get the full season schedule here: http://www.saintx.com/page.cfm?p=1450&teamID=24

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About Evan Heichelbech

Game Production Correspondent and Basketball Beat Writer for WSTX Sports.

Posted on December 1, 2014, in Tiger Basketball and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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