Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State men's basketball team will host Trevecca Nazerene in an exhibition game on Monday, Nov. 5. The tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Tigers are coming off their first 20-win season since the 1978-79 season, and the team returns ten players off of last year’s squad. While Tennessee State returns most of its impact players from a year ago, the team will feature a new head coach in Travis Williams.
This season, Williams will have the luxury of coaching an experienced team led by All-OVC Preseason Team members senior forward Robert Covington and junior guard Patrick Miller.
Last season, Covington led the team in points per game and rebounds per game with 17.8 and 7.9, respectively. At six-foot-nine, Covington is always a threat to score in the low-post, but he really shines from behind the three-point line. He attempted the most three pointers on the team last season (145), but he also made the highest percentage of his shots from behind the arc (.448). Covington played a big part in the Tigers attempting 1,773 threes last year.
While Covington excelled at making outside shots last season, he also had the benefit of playing with a point guard who could feed him the ball in Miller. The Chicago Ill. native led the team with 118 assists last season and also averaged double-digits points per game (10.8). Miller also ranked fourth in the OVC with 3.6 assists per contest
Covington and Miller will play an integral part for the Tigers this season, but the team also has good leadership across the board with four seniors. Along with Covington, the other TSU seniors are Jordan Cyphers, Kellen Thornton and Tashan Fredrick.
Fredrick is the only Tiger other than Covington that has been a three-year letter winner without redshirting. Cyphers transferred from Utah while Thornton came to TSU from Illinois State.
M.J. Rhett, a native of Hopkins S.C., also returns after starting 26 games last season as a redshirt freshman. He had the second most rebounds on the team (147) and recorded 14 blocks.
Adding to the depth are incoming transfers Chaed Wellian and Devante McClung. Wellian comes to TSU from Atlanta Metropolitan CC and will play in the post. McClung transferred in from Eastern Oklahoma JC and is expected to fight for time at guard.
Big Blue did add one freshman in Jordan Gaither who hails from Atlanta, Ga. Gaither adds athletic ability off of the bench and superior ball-handling ability.
Forward Alex Bates rounds out the TSU roster. Bates transferred from Northeastern, but will have to sit a year due to NCAA transfer rules.
The Tigers will be trying to string together their first back-to-back winning seasons in 16 years. Although the season doesn’t officially begin Monday, the exhibition versus Trevecca will serve as a great tune-up before the Tigers start the regular season at BYU on Nov. 9.
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