Taylor Smith averaged better than nine points and six rebounds in 2011-12.
Oct. 30, 2012
This is the first in a three-part series taking a glance at the 2012-13 Lumberjack basketball team. The `Jacks will open up the season on Nov. 9 vs Howard Payne at William R. Johnson Coliseum.
RETURNERS: Taylor Smith
NEWCOMERS: Ice Asortse, Patrick Costello
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Replacing an all-conference big man is never easy, but the task is minimized when the projected replacement has already garnered preseason first-team all-conference honors as Taylor Smith has already done for Stephen F. Austin entering the 2012-13 season.
Smith will have the task of moving into the starting lineup to open up the season in place of Jereal Scott, who has manned the middle for the `Jacks as the starter each of the past three seasons. But the senior is ready for the opportunity and is coming of a stellar debut season as a junior for the Lumberjacks after transferring to Nacogdoches from McLennan Community College.
Playing in the middle at just 6-6, Smith makes up for what he lacks in size with athleticism, length, energy and efficiency. He set a new school record hitting 70.1 percent of his shots from the field last season and would have led the nation in that category had he qualified for the leaderboard. He put up 9.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game a year ago in just over 19 minutes per game.
He also made three starts late in the season, putting in 10.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, including a pair of double-doubles in those games. But in addition to what he brings offensively, he also brings an added dimension defensively, blocking 42 shots last season, which was more than any other Lumberjack in the last five seasons.
"We feel like Taylor is ready for his senior year," head coach Danny Kaspar said. "I thought he should have been an all-conference player last season after playing some really big minutes for us. He was an all-conference player two times in junior college and we feel like he can be that again here."
Behind Smith will be another junior college transfer, Ice Asortse, who stands at just 6-7 but brings a strong 230-pound frame to the middle. A native of Nigeria, Asortse averaged nearly 10 points and eight boards per game in two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. There he led the Bulldogs to a 43-11 record and a conference title, earning all-conference honors himself in the process.
In addition to Asortse, SFA also brought in true freshman Patrick Costello, a 6-8 forward from Houston who will likely utilize a redshirt season. While at Pope John XXIII High School he averaged just over 13 points and five rebounds as a senior, and the coaching staff feels as though he could develop into a solid contributor down the line