October 29, 2015

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – It will be tough to improve upon last year’s 27-7 record and trip to the national tournament, but fourth-year John A. Logan College men’s basketball coach Kyle Smithpeters remains optimistic about this year’s squad.

In fact, he feels this group may indeed be more physically gifted than last season’s uber-talented bunch.

Smithpeters and staffers Zach Carpenter and Charlie Jones have built this year’s edition around four returning lettermen – Ranell Crossland (6-foot-6 forward from St. Louis), Tamas Bruce (6-foot-7 forward from Osceola, Ark.), Devontavius Payne (6-foot-2 guard from Carbondale), and Justin Lukens (6-foot-2 guard from Herrin). A fifth player – 6-foot guard Allen Jones of Chicago – redshirted last season, meaning that he practiced, but did not appear in a game.

There is also one sophomore transfer in 6-foot guard Jarvis Calhoun by way of Alabama-Birmingham University.

Incoming freshmen are: 6-foot-2 guard Jalen Perry of Louisville, Ky; 6-foot-7 forward Michael Tucker of Covington, Ga.; 6-foot-9 center LaMarcus White of Columbus, Ga.; 6-foot-3 guard Will Robinson of Chicago; 6-foot-4 forward Anthony Campbell of Chicago; 6-foot-8 forward Rashaun Richardson of Indianapolis, Ind.; 6-foot-3 guard Austin Pike of Blytheville, Ark.; 6-foot-1 guard Armon Benford of Chicago; 6-foot-6 forward Jerome Davis of Waukeegan; and 6-foot-4 forward Hunter Johnson of West Frankfort.

“We’ve been practicing for more than three weeks now. I think we are ready to play games that count,” Smithpeters said. “This is a fun group to be around and I think we can be an exciting team to watch, certainly one the fans should enjoy.”

Smithpeters said that after this weekend, the Vols endure a rugged non-conference schedule, taking on the likes of Three Rivers, Mo., Mineral Area, Mo., and Kankakee in a four-team shootout at Vincennes, Ind.

“We’re going to have to improve really fast to give ourselves a chance to compete in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference and in Region 24,” Smithpeters said. “I’m fortunate in that our sophomores are teaching the freshmen each and every day in practice what to look for when they’re competing. This group of sophomores has helped to create a winning culture here, which we hope will continue to thrive.”

Smithpeters added that being talented doesn’t always translate to wins.

“You have to go out and play the games…play hard and execute the game plan,” he said. “And we have to be really resilient when things don’t go our way, because there will be times when things don’t go our way.”