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Exhibition basketball has Shepherd playing WVU

By Staff | Oct 24, 2014

There will be seven new basketball players on the roster of the 2014-15 West Virginia Mountaineers. And there will be seven new players on the roster of the Shepherd Rams. All of those just-introduced faces will get together on Sunday, November 9 in Morgantown when the Rams play West Virginia in an exhibition game that is certainly a novelty for Shepherd basketball.

The Mountaineers can play against teams from the ranks of other NCAA levels and not have the outing count against their schedule. In previous seasons WVU has played Fairmont in so-called exhibition games before the regular season opened.

Shepherd has never played against West Virginia. The game doesn’t count against the Rams’ schedule, either.

Seven incoming players will be blended with Coach Bob Huggins’ holdovers.

Only quick-silver point guard Juwan Staten from last year’s team is a guaranteed starter. Some preseason musings from yearly publications have Staten as the Big 12 player of the year.

Huggins started then-freshman Nathan Adrian and then-junior Kevin Noreen on many a dark winter’s night last season. If either starts this season it will be because 6-foot-9 freshman Elijah Macon, 6-foot-7 Jonathan Holton, and 6-foot-6 BillyDee Williams were all found wanting after being given every opportunity to move ahead of the two returning front court players.

The other four first-year Mountaineers are all guards and are in place because of so many transfers moving out of Morgantown from last year’s team.

Jaysean Price is a 6-foot-2 junior coming in from Moberly CC in Kansas. Javon Carter is a 6-foot-2 freshman from Proviso, Illinois, just outside Chicago. Daxter Miles, Jr. is a 6-foot-3 freshman from Baltimore and Notre Dame Prep. Tarik Phillp is a 6-foot-3 sophomore from Independence CC.

Sophomores Devin Williams (6-foot-9) and Brandon Williams (6-foot-9) are returnees. Williams is expected to be a front court starter when the regular season begins in mid-November.

Gary Browne is also back. The 6-1 guard may be pushed back in the player rotation by the influx of so many new guards.

Macon and Holton were on campus last year but never gained eligibility.

Shepherd has brought in seven new players to team with returning starters Morgan McDonald, Austin Cunningham and Naim Muhammad. All three of those players averaged in double figures last season with Cunningham scoring at 16 points a game as the Rams went 20-10 overall, including a first-round loss in the Mountain East Conference tournament.

There are no outsized players among these Rams. But there are a significant number of 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-5 players on the 15-player roster.

The seven first-year players include six freshmen — mercurial Dominique Newman, a 6-foot, 145-pound point guard who played at Washington High, 6-foot-5 Gavin McTavish from Bridgton Academy and before that South Carroll High, 6-foot-6 A.J. Carr from St. James School, 6-foot point guard Steffen Davis from Maret in Washington, D.C., 6-foot-5 Tommy Hargroves from Musselman and 5-foot-11, 150-pound Ochae Bynum from North Point High in Maryland.

The upper class transfer is Ryan McTavish, who comes to Shepherd from the Presbyterian Blue Hose.

Front court players back from the 2013-14 team are Mike Reed and Seth Myers. Myers only played in one game and was injured without coming back. Guards from last season include Skyler Roman, who played extensively before falling to a season-ending injury in the fifth game, Garett Burkhead and Rob Lawler.

Shepherd had a 14-8 conference record in its first season in the Mountain East Conference.

Opening at home as they usually do, the Rams will host the annual, two-night Clarion Hotel and Conference Center tournament on November 14-15.

West Virginia has seven new players, and some of them have to be immediate contributors or the Big 12 schedule could swallow the Mountaineers. Shepherd has seven new players — all of whom will be thrown in against the tallest and widest players they have ever faced when the Mountaineers and Rams stage their exhibition game at 4 p.m. on November 9 at the Coliseum in Morgantown.