NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee State University men’s basketball team moves into a new era with head coach Dana Ford at the helm.
Coaching at TSU is old hat for Ford who was an assistant here under John Cooper from 2009-2011. While he coached here, the Tigers won 43 games. Ford helped build the Tigers up by recruiting talented players such as Robert Covington, Kellen Thornton, Patrick Miller and current guard Jay Harris.
The youngest coach in all of NCAA Division I will lead a team comprised of one returner and 12 newcomers. The Tigers have two players (the aforementioned Harris and junior Christian Crockett) with experience playing at this level, the fewest in Division I. What the Tigers lack in experience, though, they make up with talent.
Jay Harris – Lone Returner
Harris will be the leader of the Tiger backcourt this season. Last season, his junior year, Harris averaged 7.4 points per game and was second on the team in total steals with 24. He was a 76% free throw shooter and averaged 2.4 rebounds per game.
Harris will be joined by five newcomers in Darreon Reddick, Xavier Richards, Rodney Simeon, and Charles Tucker.
Reddick was the first commitment that Coach Ford received as head coach. He was the top scorer for his high school, Belleville East in Belleville, Ill., by averaging 13.7 points. He showed his well-rounded game by also averaging 4.6 rebounds, and 2.63 assists per contest. Richards, a transfer from Baltimore City Community College, was a third team NJCAA All-American last year as he helped his side win the Region XX Championship. He averaged 19.2 points per game and shot 59% from the field.
Simeon comes to TSU from Miami, Fla. where he was the captain of the Boyd H. Anderson high school team that posted a 25-6 record. He put up 15.3 points per game and also averaged 5.5 rebounds which helped his team make the Final Four in the 7A state playoffs. Tucker was a member of the 2011-12 USA Men’s Developmental National Team comprised of the nation’s top under-16 talents. The coaches are very high on him and expect him to make a big impact right away.
All five forwards are newcomers this season with three freshman and two juniors.
Chima Azuonwu is the team’s only true center. Standing at 6’ 11”, the Delta, Nigeria native averaged close to a double-double in his final high school season at Darien High School (Connecticut) while his team finished 11-11, one of the school’s best finishes in recent memory. Joining Azuonwu is Crockett, who gained his Division I experience at Mount Saint Mary’s as a freshman. The transfer from Odessa Community College helped his team to a 22-7 record, shooting 54% from the floor and averaging 7.7 points and five rebounds per game.
Zachary Lee, a talented freshman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, joins the Tigers’ post players from Eldorado High School. Lee averaged 11 points and eight rebounds while excelling on defense with 4.2 blocks per game. A transfer from Brunswick Community College, Demontez Loman was a force his sophomore year. The 6’ 6” forward averaged 10.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 1.6 steals per game. He was also named second team All-Region. He led the team in rebounding, blocked shots and steals to earn the Region 10 Defensive Player of the Year award.
After three-straight home games to begin the season, TSU will participate in the Barclays Tournament with match-ups against Vanderbilt (Nov. 23), Virginia (Nov. 25) and St. Peters (Nov. 28) before facing either Norfolk State or St. Francis (Nov. 29).
December is comprised of two home games, Hampton (Dec. 2) and Kennesaw State (Dec. 31), in addition to six road games. TSU travels to Lipscomb (Dec. 6), Southern Illinois (Dec. 16), Hampton (Dec. 19), Middle Tennessee State (Dec. 21), Tennessee (Dec. 27), and Texas Christian (Dec. 29) before moving into 2015 and OVC play.
The Tigers will look to make the 2014-15 season a new beginning in the legacy of TSU. It all starts Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:00 p.m. when they host Reinhardt.