Last season, RSU relied heavily on 6’6’’ power forward Sylvester Spicer and 6’1’’ point guard Lance Sullivan with good reason. The pair ended their senior year earning all-conference honors while leading the Hillcats to its second straight SAC championship game.
This season, much will be expected from the returning seniors. Along with Matt Kellogg and Joey Twilley the Hillcats will look to guard Deverick Taylor and power forward John Boyd in putting up big numbers.
Guard Chris Francis is also looking to step into the forefront to help guide the team.
“As a senior I think it’s my job to step up and lead some of the guys that hasn’t been in the SAC league before and just help them out and do the best I can on and off the court,” said Francis.
He started 15 out of 30 games averaging 7 points per game and shooting 37% outside the perimeter.
Guard Matt Kellogg rounds out the returning seniors. He shot 43.4 % beyond the arc and 44.3% from the field last season.
Point guard Maurice Rutherford will sit out for the first half of the season due to eligibility purposes. Rutherford took a medical redshirt after suffering an injury early in the 2009-10 season. He will be back on the court in time for conference play.
Head Coach Justin Barkley is hoping his new additions can step up to the challenge as well.
Power forward Brandon Mims is a senior transfer who appeared in 65 games over the last two seasons for LSU-Shreveport of the NAIA making him one of the most experienced players on the RSU roster.
Center Ajuma Jaramogi is a junior transfer who appeared in 11 games as a sophmore for the NCAA Division II University of Arkansas at Monticello. He’s originally from Trinidad.
Power forward Alburey Doss is a senior transfer from Missouri Southern. He began his basketball college career at Langston University where he averaged 16.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as sophomore in 2008-09. Doss was a teammate of Sullivan in the same year.
Larry Cox is a junior transfer from the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie Junior College. As a sophomore in 2008-09 he led the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game and rebounds with 8.7 per game.
Barkley’s newly acquired freshmen will also have major roles to take on for the Hillcats. C.J. Sidorakis from Jenks High School will be a threat from the outside. As a senior he held a 37% 3-point average and averaged 9.8 points per game. His older brother Nick is a senior for Oklahoma State this season.
Until Rutherford is back in action, RSU will look to Jordan Burrell to help lead the way for the Hillcats. Burrell is from Valliant, Okla. And was an All-State selection during his senior season in 2009-2010.
To help prepare the men’s team for conference play, Barkley has scheduled three exhibitions against NCAA Division I competition.
“For us to get better we want to play the best,” said Barkley. “I think it’s a good way for us to see where we’re at.”
RSU will travel to battle Texas Christian University, Oral Roberts and the University of Houston.
In addition to the new faces, Hillcat fans can expect to see a new coaching staff. Though not new to the program Barkley is entering his first season as head coach for the men’s basketball team. The Hillcats will also be in the leadership of new assistant coaches Kyle Blankenship and Mike Cyprien. Blankenship come from Lamar State College-Port Arthur where he coached for one season and spent three seasons prior as an assistant coach as LSU-Shreveport.
It will be a challenge to replace Spicer and Sullivan but with the new mixture of experienced players added to the solid group of returnees, RSU fans can expect to see a growing team coming together for a common goal.