Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Gadsden State men’s basketball program is well on its way to serving as a local pipeline for four-year colleges.
Several GSCC sophomores recently signed scholarships with four-year colleges, an accomplishment that head coach Deddric Traver considers one of his top priorities.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve sent about 14 guys to the next level, so I think we’re heading in the right direction in that area,” he said. “And with the kids we’ve got for this season, we’ve got about 27 [scholarship] offers on the table. That means those guys are getting it done on the court and in the classroom. When four-year schools send over their scholarship forms, I look them over and make sure that exactly what they told our kids is in there. Then I tell our guys to go ahead and sign.”
Receiving the opportunity to play at the next level were guard Corien Frazier with the University of Mobile; guard C.J. Smith with Ecclesia College in Springdale, Arizona; guard Justin Minter and center Treagan Lockett with Wiley College in Marshall. Texas; and Jalen Taylor with Stillman College in Tuscaloosa.
Smith, who also received an offer from Arkansas Baptist, was good for 10 points a game and shot 41 percent from downtown. He also had 50 assists and 22 steals.
“C.J. is a good student and a very quiet individual who brings leadership by example,” said Tarver. “He’s a combination guard who can play both ends of the floor. He did very well in his two years with us. I think he’ll be a big contributor with [Ecclesia].”
Tarver pointed out that Frazier returned for his sophomore year at Gadsden State despite receiving several offers from Division I programs. A second team all-conference selection this past season, Frazier averaged 12 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from the 3-point line and 77 percent from the free throw line.
“Corien is a special player,” said Tarver. “He wanted to be close to home, so he got his dream school with Mobile because it’s 10 miles from home in Semmes. [Mobile] is an up and coming program, and I think Corien will bring a lot to the table.”
In 29 games last season, Minter finished with 11.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists along with 24 steals.
“Justin will both bring leadership both on and off the court, just like he did for us,” said Tarver. [Wiley] needed some size, and being 6’10, Treagan will bring some shot-blocking ability. [Wiley] had kind of a down year last season, and I think those two guys will help get that program back on track.”
Taylor (pictured above) sat out last season after getting extensive minutes as a freshman.
“Jalen went to an open tryout at Stillman, and they ended up offering him a scholarship,” said Traver. “Jalen played well for us as a freshman, and he got it going back in the right direction.”
Tarver, who is entering his seventh season at Gadsden State, is happy with his 2022 recruiting class, which includes Maleek Kidd of Gadsden City, Landan Williams and DeAnthony Williams of Alexandria, Michael Dale of Hueytown and Markavious Atkinson of Lanett.
Those five players join rising sophomores Kintavious Dozier, Parker Godwin, Che’ Ben, Ryan Anderson and Azaad Ben. Dozier was the Cardinals’ leading scorer last season and third in the conference at 22 points per game.
The Cardinals, who went 12-17 overall and 8-13 in conference action, failed to qualify for the Alabama Community College Conference Tournament this past season after the ACCC trimmed the divisional postseason teams from six to four.
Gadsden State finished a game out of playoffs, losing the final spot to Southern Union, a team the Cardinals twice defeated in the regular season.
“Since I first came to the conference in 2010, the Northern Division has been very tough,” said Tarver. “But last year we didn’t lose a game by double digits to a team from the state of Alabama, and that’s rare. Most of the conference games we lost were by one or two points, so that was hard for the kids. But we had a really good summer camp, and I’m looking forward to what we can do this season.”
On a personal level, Traver is 12 victories shy of the 100-career coaching win milestone, an achievement he hopes will come sooner than later in the 2022-23 season.
“We’ve had five winning seasons out of the six we’ve been here, which is impressive, but definitely the most important thing for the players is being able to continue to get their education paid for.