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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Men’s basketball begins practice leading up to 2020-21 season

Texas+State+sophomore+guard+Drew+Tennial+%2810%29+and+freshman+guard+Dylan+Dawson+%280%29+listen+to+Interim+Head+Coach+Terrence+Johnson+during+practice%2C+Friday%2C+Nov.+6%2C+2020%2C+at+Strahan+Arena.

Texas State sophomore guard Drew Tennial (10) and freshman guard Dylan Dawson (0) listen to Interim Head Coach Terrence Johnson during practice, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, at Strahan Arena.

Following a 2019-20 campaign cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas State men’s basketball is back in the gym in preparation for a season like none other in previous years.
After ending the 2019-20 season with an overall record of 21-11 and 13-7 in the Sun Belt Conference, the Bobcats defeated Appalachian State 85-68 in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference Championship; little did they know that would be their last game of the season. Shortly after, the remainder of the tournament was canceled.
The pandemic proved to be only the beginning of Texas State’s troubles. On June 4, former Head Coach Danny Kaspar was accused of making racist comments to former players on the team, by a former player. After an investigation into the allegations began, Kaspar was placed on leave with pay and eventually resigned Sept. 22.
Following Kaspar’s resignation, Terrence Johnson was named interim head coach for the 2020-21 season after serving as an assistant coach since 2015. With his unexpected promotion, Johnson must now adjust to a new dynamic between himself and the players.
“It’s exciting. It was a little weird early on moving from being viewed as an assistant by the players, to now being viewed as a head coach,” Johnson said. “The weirdest thing is the relationship automatically changed; you’re not the guy they want to talk to right after practice anymore.”
The team is also facing the loss of all-time leading scorer Nijal Pearson, who recently graduated and now plays basketball for Chorale Roanne in France. Pearson’s departure left big shoes for the team to fill.
“We’re going to do it by committee; we have some guys that want to step up, [but] we don’t have anybody that will fill the shoes of Nijal’s 19.8 points a game,” Johnson said. “Collectively if we continue to play together and gel together, I think we’re going to be [good]… I’m not going to say as good, [but] I think we’re going to have some Nijal Pearson-like nights this year.”
Johnson will lean on junior guard Mason Harrell. Last season, Harrell was second on the team in scoring with 8.9 points a game and led the team in three-point percentage at 44.6%.
“As far as the returners, it’s hard not to be impressed with Mason Harrell; we’re going to go as he goes,” Johnson said. “He’s our leader and our hardest working kid I’ve been around. He’s been putting in great hours and great work in the gym, and we’re seeing the fruits of his labor.
Other notable returners include senior forward Isiah Small, junior forward Alonzo Sule and graduate guard Marlin Davis. Small shot 52.9% from the field and 33.3% from the three-point line. Sule ended the season averaging 8.1 points and a team-high 56.1% from the field. Davis led the team in assists with 3.9 per game and was second on the team in steals at 1.09 per game.
“This being my last season I just want to win it for the guys, my older teammates from the past five years,” Davis said. “That’s really why I come in here every day, and I just want to be able to say I did it for my older teammates, I just want to win it for them.”
The team has also introduced some new faces, including freshman guard Dylan Dawson and freshman forward Nate Martin. Dawson averaged 25 points a game at Humble Atascocita and was on the first-team all-district and all-region teams. The 6’8″ Martin averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds at Cypress Creek.
“[Martin has been] doing really good, and he picks up on things really fast; when he’s healthy he makes us better, and he’s a really good passer from the high-post area.”
Martin says he was nervous about making the transition from high school to college, but with the help of the upperclassmen, he has found his groove.
“I was a little nervous at first, but all of the returners are helping bring me along and are teaching me the ways a little bit,” Martin said. “We’re focusing a lot on just gelling really and moving the ball to each other, pressing each other [and] just defensive rotations [and pressuring the ball].”
The team will open its season Nov. 25 against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, at Strahan Arena.

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  • Interim Head Coach Terrence Johnson after a team practice, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, at Strahan Arena.

  • Texas State graduate guard Marlin Davis (5) goes for a layup during practice, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, at Strahan Arena.

  • Texas State graduate guard Marlin Davis (5) runs from the defense during a practice drill, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, at Strahan Arena.

  • Texas State freshman guard Dylan Dawson (0) prepares to run past defending junior guard Mason Harrell (12) during a practice drill, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, at Strahan Arena.

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