Losing a conference player of the year is tough for any coach to replace, especially when that coach has no returning players at the same position that played from the previous season. However, head coach Steve Forbes has made it work since he took over the basketball program in 2015.
ETSU has become a program where transfers can strive. The goal has become more than making it to the conference championship but winning it to advance with a chance to play in the NCAA tournament. Last season, the Bucs won 25 games with 16 of those 25 games being in a row.
Among those returning to play for the Bucs that played quite a bit as freshmen is former SoCon Freshman of the Year Bo Hodges (Nashville, Tennessee) and former All-SoCon Freshman Team honor Mladen Armus (Belgrade, Serbia).
A couple key players the Bucs should be on the lookout for this season are sharpshooters junior Tray Williams III (Memphis, Tennessee) and sophomore Patrick Good (Johnson City, Tennessee) who had to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Williams shot 45 percent from three last season at Northwest Florida State College, helping lead his team to a 31-3 record.
“Just going against the guys from last year we had a good core group that had a lot of all-conference players and players that had experience at the D1 level,” Good said. “I got to improve my game and just learn from them by getting to practice with them every day.”
For Forbes, what he brought in this season will be close to what he had in the 2016-2017 season: A lot of guys that can score in different levels of the court.
“I’m excited, I feel like we have a lot of depth and talent, so I’m excited just to get them out on the court to see how they play,” said Forbes. “Right now there are a lot of question marks as far as who’s going to do what, but I do feel we have the pieces to have a really good team.”
Going into the season, Forbes believes his team can score at every position, which is not a liberty every team has. He is confident this team can score in a multitude of ways whether inside or outside on the perimeter.
The Bucs’ exhibition game is set for Nov. 2, where fans will get to see the new Bucs before the team travels for their first game next Tuesday against Georgia State.