Front row from left are Roane State men’s basketball coach Randy Nesbit, Draven Tate, William Johnson, Ricky Shearman, Geevantay Gee, DeMierre Black, Jaron Hoover, Aaron Njike, and Kavan Hill. Back from left are trainer Jon Beach, Damon Baildon, Blake Ervin, Garrett Crandell, Jeremy Joyner, Malachi Gayle, Austin Brooks, Tyler Thompson, Bowden Lyon, and assistant coach Alan Holt.
Nov. 1, 2017
By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
With five returning players and a trio of new, big post players, Roane State Raiders head coach Randy Nesbit is optimistic about the upcoming basketball season.
Nesbit, now in his 26th year as coach, said he’s “pretty excited” about the upcoming season. “We think we can definitely improve upon last year,” he said.
After a strong regular season, the Raiders "almost put it all together in the tournament," Nesbit said, and nearly reached the championship round. The team lost to Motlow State in the semi-finals, and that team went on to place eighth in the national tournament.
The coach praised the returning players, saying they have “really good basketball IQ and high character.”
He said the team should be “very aggressive in our man-to-man defense.” He said the squad has a “very attacking style of offense, both on the fast break and in half-court play.”
Here’s a rundown on the team, starting with returning players:
William “Rel” Johnson, from Louisville, Ky., who stands 6’2” and weighs around 220 lbs. “He’s a unique athlete with the body of an NFL fullback. He’s a very skilled player in regards to his ability to score, both going to the basket and his outside shooting.” Johnson made second team all-conference last season, Nesbit said.
Geevantay Gee, 5’11, from Oak Ridge. “He’s a very high IQ point guard with really outstanding athleticism. He’s quick on defense and can really jump. His outside shooting has improved.”
Ricky Shearman, 6’, from Acworth, Ga. “A very physical, tough point guard who has improved his shooting a great deal in the off-season. He’s a very creative passer and a hard-nosed defender.”
Tyler Thompson, 6’6”, from Kingston. “He’s an excellent outside shooter who has put on 20 pounds of muscle in the off-season. That’s helping him defend and rebound better,” Nesbit said of this wing player.
Garrett Crandell, 6’4”, from Bristol, Tenn. “He’s extremely athletic and is the total package in scoring off dribble and shooting ‘threes.’” Crandell was named to the five-man, all-tournament team last year.
Jaron Hoover, 5’11” from Tupelo, Miss. “He’ll provide depth in the point guard position, and his future is bright here.”
Aaron Njike, 6’3”, from Cameroon, Africa. “He’s a phenomenal athlete, and every day we’re looking for him to adjust more and more to the fast-paced intensity of college basketball in America. He has enormous potential and has to keep gaining basketball IQ to reach his potential as a wing player.”
Bowden Lyon, 6’5”, from Johnson City. “He’s a really good all-around wing player, and he should be a good contributor this year.”
DeMierre Black, 6’1”, from Marietta, Ga. “He’s a highly rated recruit who has the perfect size, quickness and playmaking ability in the point guard spot.”
Blake Ervin, 6'5" from Maryville. "He has a really good all-around game and looks to be a big contributor."
Malachi Gayle, 6’9”, from Harlem, New York. “With limited high school basketball experience, we’re trying to rush him along. He has a lot of potential to block shots as a post player.”
Austin Brooks, 6’7”, from Maryville. “This left-hander is a real intense, physical inside player in the post position.”
Jeremy Joyner, 6’9”, from Jonesborough, Ga. “He has good quickness and good height for a post player.”
While the three freshmen post players are “somewhat inexperienced,” Nesbit said he’s “really pleased with how they are progressing.”
The squad’s assistant coach is Alan Holt, now in his third year.
Check the men's basketball schedule for upcoming games.
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