Last season, the Maryville College Men’s basketball team experienced a rollercoaster of a season that was full of constant improvement and growth. The Scots are looking to take that energy into the new campaign.
The Scots enter this season coming off of a 9-17 record. The team saw their season come to an end in the USA South quarterfinals against a strong team in Covenant College. MC lost in a heartbreaking fashion (83-81) after Covenant College hoisted up a game winning three-point shot to end the overtime period.
In his first year as head coach, Raul Placeres had one senior on the team and played nine first year players. The Scots started out the season by losing the first nine games on their schedule. However, MC finished strong by winning four out of their last five games.
“We started off real slow with a very inexperienced ballclub,” Placeres said. “As the year went on, the good thing that I saw was that we got better and better – there was growth. I’m pleased with the growth of that season but now I’m looking forward to this season.”
Going into the 2020-2021 season, Maryville is predicted to finish second in the West Division according to the USA South Coaches Poll. Placeres and assistant coach Jeff McCord entered this season with a ballclub that has gained depth, experience, and maturity. It is still a very young team, but it is a battle tested team. On the roster, there are a mix of returners, freshmen, and transfers who can all play ball.
Felix Uadiale entered his sophomore season having won the USA South Rookie of the Year award last year. From the center position, Uadiale finished last season with an average of 9.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1 block per game. He was also named USA South Rookie of the Week four times.
“I had a great year last year, but I need to work on being more consistent this season,” Uadiale said. “I had too many games where I didn’t produce enough for the team, but this year I know what I need to do in order to stay consistent and produce. My goal is to be a better overall player this year.”
JR Sanders looks to man the point guard position this year. He’s coming off of a junior year in which he averaged 12 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds per game. Junior sharpshooter Kevin Chong will look to build off of the 13 points and 6 rebounds per game that he averaged last season. Kordell Kah also enjoyed a very successful freshman campaign. Kah shot 38 percent from deep while averaging 7.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Scots fans will be eager to see the return of junior post player Nick Clifton. Before suffering a season ending ACL tear, Clifton was averaging 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game.
Placeres brought in two sophomore guards who transferred from Division 1 institutions: Myles Rasnick (ETSU) and Chase Ridenour (Tennessee Tech). Dalton Coleman, Javon Crane, Daniel Jackson, and Jordan Griswould are all returners who are looking to carve out a role for themselves this season. Daryl Rice, Jakobe Coleman, and Brandon Jones are three freshmen names to keep an eye on.
“I have some guys who truly enjoy the game of basketball,” Placeres said. “They want to get better each and every day. The guys stay dialed in academically, on the floor, and off the floor. I’m excited about the future of the program. We want it to be a better season than what we had last year. We’re competing for a conference championship.”
The Coronavirus pandemic affected the sports world across the globe and Maryville College was not an exception. In Sept. 2020, the Presidents of the USA South Athletic Conference met and voted unanimously to postpone all men’s and women’s basketball conference competition until the spring 2021 semester.
“I was shocked when they had decided to postpone our season, but I knew that I needed to continue to stay motivated, active, and positive every day, despite the countless uncertainties that surrounded the season,” Uadiale said.
The Presidents of the USA South Athletic Conference voted unanimously to approve the conduction of men’s and women’s basketball this spring. It’ll look different than it has in years past. The season will take place between January and March, and spectators will not be allowed at any basketball games. Teams are being asked to constantly wear their mask when they step off the court, around campus, and in the locker room. They have to make smart decisions and continue to socially distance themselves.
According to the USA South, teams will play opponents within their division only in a double-round robin format. As of now the NCAA intends to conduct championships within the sports of men’s and women’s basketball, so therefore the USA South champions will receive an automatic bid to the tournament.
“We’re very fortunate and very grateful that we’ve been given this opportunity to compete,” Placeres said. “My goal is for us to enjoy every moment that we have together. “Having a season has given us something to look forward to, especially with everything that is going on today.”