Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
After nearly a month of inactivity, the Gadsden State mens basketball team is rounding into game shape, both physically and mentally.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Alabama Community College Conference postponed the 2020 schedule of games and packed the men and women’s basketball regular seasons into a nine-week window starting January 20. The Cardinals’ last scrimmage was on November 19, and the players currently have two weeks of formal practice under their belts. Gadsden State went 3-1 in four fall scrimmages.
“We’ve been off for approximately 60 days, so it’s been a long layoff,” said GSCC head coach Deddrick Tarver. “We’re just trying to get back into basketball shape. We’re doing a lot of conditioning drills while at the same time familiarizing the guys on what we’re planning to do. A good thing is that every one of our starting five is capable of handling the basketball.”
Two starters return from the 2019-20 Gadsden State team that went 16-13 overall and 4-10 in conference action – sophomore guards Corien Frazier and Jalen Taylor (pictured above). Frazier was named to All-Region 22 North Division second team after leading the Cardinals in scoring, while Taylor was the team’s defensive stopper. Frazier was recently named to the Alabama Community College Conference’s Fall 2020 Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll.
“Both guys bring leadership on and off the court,” said Tarver. “And both are very good students. They’re showing the rest of our guys that going to class is as important as going to practice.”
Tarver referred to the remaining nine members of the roster as “brand new,” including sophomore transfers Jeremiah Hurst, Justin Minter, Clifton Smith, Jr., and Kendall Wright and
freshmen Elijah Clark, Treagan Lockett, Sloan Phillips, Tyreese Smith and Trent Freeman.
“We’ll be a little young on the inside, but those guys are tough,” said Tarver. “They’ve got the mindset that they’ll be competitive, no matter who they’re playing against.”
Judging from what he has seen so far during scrimmages and practices, Tarver anticipates a good amount of depth.
“This is the first year I can say that we’ll be competitive in every game. I don’t see any team coming in and blowing us off the court. We’ve got a group of guys with a very competitive spirit, and we’ve got the pieces to play very up tempo.”
With every game being a conference game, Tarver noted that a lot will be at stake night in and night out.
“From January 20 to April 2, we’ll have to bring it, no matter who the opponent is,” he said. “The other day we had a very detailed meeting about being focused during these nine weeks that we have. We also talked about being blessed and fortunate to even be playing basketball with all the things going on in society. From our standpoint, our school administration and [athletic director] Mike Cancilla are doing a great job of making sure we have everything we need.”