BRISTOL, Tenn. – The expectations for the King University men's basketball team are always high, but this season they might be higher than they have been in the past. Earlier this fall, the Tornado were selected first in the Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll, leaving high expectations for George Pitts' squad this season.
The Tornado only lost two players off of last year's third place squad however, those losses, Eddie Piccinini and Jason Seymore, were all-conference performers and leave big holes to fill. Even though King finished in third place a season ago, the Tornado finished only one game away from winning their second Conference Carolinas title in as many years in the league. King posted and overall record of 19-8 while going 14-6 in conference play. The season came to a disappointing end as the Tornado fell to sixth seeded Erskine College at home in the first round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament, giving King motivation for 2013-14.
"We lost two really good players in Eddie and Jason without a doubt, and sometimes you have to replace a good player with two players," Pitts commented. "Eddie played the two spot for us, and right now Scottie Hendricks, who's a senior and C.J. Good, whose a freshman have been playing that position, and I think both of them are going to make big contributions for our team. Jason played the four for us, and right now we have Shamarae Watts, a junior college transfer and Hunter LeVeau, a freshman that are ahead of the pack at that spot. So a lot of times you have to rely on more than one person when you lose a really good player. Our other two seniors, Michael and Brandon, we are expecting really big things out of them."
The senior trio of Michael Fortune, Scottie Hendricks and Brandon Crompton will led the Tornado squad this season. Fortune led King, and ranked sixth in the conference with 110 assists last season for an average of 4.2 helpers per game. Both Hendricks and Crompton played in 26 of King's 27 games with Crompton making six starts.
Second team all-conference performer Logan Lyle will look the lead the offense again this season as he led King with a scoring average of 14.6 points per game last season. The junior also led Conference Carolinas with 92 three-point baskets a season ago while ranking seventh with a three-point field goal percentage of 41.6.
Sophomores Drew Standifer and Malcolm St. Louis will vie for time in the front court as they each played in all 27 games as freshmen and combined for 20 starts. Standifer ranked fourth on the team with a scoring average of 8.8 points per game while St. Louis grabbed 4.4 rebounds per game during his rookie campaign.
Other returners that will be vying for time in the back court with Hendricks will be sophomores Calvin Walker, James Scales and Nathanael Hughes. A season ago, Scales saw action in 23 games while Hughes played in 20 and Walker made 17 appearances.
Along with this solid returning group, Pitts will rely on a talented group of newcomers. This group includes freshmen C.J. Good, Hunter LeVeau and Mack Owens along with transfer students Dorian Albritton and Shamarae Watts. Albritton comes to King after spending last season at VMI while Watts spent the last two seasons at Snead State Community College. In his only season at VMI, Albritton played in 25 games for the Keydets and averaged 3.9 points per game. A season ago, Watts averaged 4.4 points per game, playing in 18 games for Snead State.
The Tornado will be tested this year as they face four teams that are ranked in the NABC Preseason Top-25, and two in the top-10. King faces #15 Lincoln Memorial University in the Student Center Complex on November 16. The Tornado will also take on #18 University of Southern Indiana and #4 Bellarmine University at the Southern Indiana Tournament on November 29-30. King also hosts #6 USC Aiken on December 21 in the Student Center Complex.
King opens their season at home on November 10 against UVa-Wise at 3:00 p.m. The Tornado travel to take on Erskine College in their Conference Carolinas opener on December 4. The Conference Carolinas Tournament "final four" will be played at Cabarrus Arena in Concord, N.C.