By Joshua Orozco
Assistant Sports Director
The 99th season of Bobcat men’s basketball is just around the corner. Head coach Danny Kaspar leads the ‘Cats for his seventh season following the best year for Texas State basketball since the 1993-94 campaign. Kaspar will look to add to his .500 (98-98) record with the Bobcats in a season full of upcoming monumental achievements and huge shoes to fill.
Key Returners: Nijal Pearson, Eric Terry, Alonzo Sule
A name that will be mentioned a thousand times this season, Nijal Pearson is on pace to break multiple school records.
Pearson can cement himself as one of the best players in school history with an opportunity to lead the program in points, three-point field goals made, minutes played and steals. Pearson enters his senior year as the only Bobcat to be named to the All-Sun Belt Conference first team.
Forward Eric Terry is coming off leading the Bobcats with a 69 percent field goal percentage last year, the second highest in school history, only behind Earl Lankford (72 percent, 1959-60). Terry looks to build off of last season’s historic pace and is also just five blocks away from moving into the program’s top 10 in career rejections.
Key Exists: Tre Nottingham, Alex Peacock, Jaylen Shead
Whether due to graduation, professional careers outside of the country or transferring to another university, three of the top five scorers from last season are no longer with the team: Tre Nottingham, Alex Peacock and Jaylen Shead. Losing a combined average of 29 points per game is alarming for the Bobcats, but coach Kaspar says their knowledge on the game of basketball made the team even more exceptional.
“Athleticism and skill level is comparable but those guys really had what I had in mind,” Kaspar said during Texas State basketball media day. “They were good players, but their basketball IQ [is] exceptional.”
Key Transfers: Isiah Small, Caleb Asberry, Deshawn Davidson
Forward Isiah Small has already received comparisons to Peacock. Small is a six-foot-eight transfer from Seward County Community College with double-digit scoring potential and defensive playmaking ability.
Ranger College transfer Caleb Asberry had a rough offseason including patella tendinitis and a sprained ankle. However, Asberry enters his first year at Texas State at full health and remains high on Kaspar’s radar to being a key to the Bobcats success in the future.
Notable non-conference opponents: Baylor, Houston, Air Force, UTSA, Abilene Christian
Kaspar and the ‘Cats beef up their non-conference slate of games including four teams, Baylor, Houston, Abilene Christian and Prairie View A&M, who punched their tickets to the NCAA Tournament in March last season.
The Bobcats also play Air Force for the third consecutive season, splitting their first two games against one another. Texas State will host I-35 rival UTSA which saw both of the two previous tightly contested nail biters with the Roadrunners decided by only one point.
Texas State’s upcoming non-conference matchups combined for a 215-144 record last season.
Season Projection: Records Breaking, Hopes Rising
The Bobcats hope to see another spike in attendance following last season’s record breakings crowds including a Strahan Arena best 6,581 fans at the Texas State-UTA game on February, 2nd earlier this year.
Reigning back-to-back Sun Belt Conference champions Georgia State Panthers are coming off a difficult offseason with the departure of head coach Ron Hunter and leading scorer D’Marcus Simonds entering the NBA draft. The Sun Belt placed the Bobcats at fourth in the preseason coaches’ poll.
The road to coach Kaspar and the Bobcats securing the program’s first Sun Belt tournament championship resets and begins tonight as Texas State hosts Cameron in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. inside Strahan Arena. Updates, scores and analysis for Bobcat basketball can be found @KTSWSports on Twitter with every game broadcast on KTSW 89.9.
Featured image by Texas State Athletics