2012-13 Season Preview: Fowards
Nov. 2, 2012
This is the second 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.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Depth will be a huge key for the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks in 2011-12, but with proven commodities at both guard and post, SFA will look to a deep and versatile roster to find production at forward this season.
SFA returns just two forwards from last year's squad, although guards Demond Haymon, Thomas Walkup and possibly even Antoino Bostic could all see time this year at small forward. Jacob Parker played the most significant minutes a year ago, starting the season as the starting power forward and becoming just the second true freshman to start a season in the starting lineup in the Danny Kaspar era.
But a nagging foot injury plagued Parker's season, cutting into his play and practice time and causing him to miss three games. Now a sophomore from Bixby, Okla., Parker averaged just 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds last season, but was one of the best passers on the roster and has the coaching staff convinced that if he can remain healthy in 2012-13 that he can play an integral part of the Lumberjack's plans.
Meanwhile, Joe Bright is the only other returning forward for SFA and he too was bothered throughout last year by an injury, one that caused him to miss the first three games of the year. He never fully recovered, but still managed to get into 28 games and make five starts while averaging 1.6 points and 1.7 rebounds just one season removed from winning a junior college national title at Howard College.
"Joe and Jacob each do a lot of things well for us, but were hampered by injuries last season," head coach Danny Kaspar said. "If they are able to remain healthy this year I am confident each of them can be contributors for us."
Aside from Parker and Bright, SFA will welcome three new forwards this season, including a pair of junior college transfers and a true freshman. Nikola Gajic originally hails from Bosnia, but comes to SFA from Jacksonville College, less than an hour away from Nacogdoches. There he played two seasons, averaging 13.2 points for the Jaguars.
But more importantly, Gajic hit 46 percent of his three-point tries a year ago, which could be huge for a Lumberjack team which hit a league-worst 28.7 percent of its three-point shots last season and ranked in the bottom five in the country in total triples made.
"Nikola has picked up on things quicker than we anticipated, but what we are most excited about is his ability to shoot the ball," Kaspar said. "Perimeter shooting was not a strength of ours last year and was something we knew we had to address in the off-season, and we feel as though Nikola can help us immediately in that regard."
The `Jacks also added two more forwards in Danilo Toskovic (Western Wyoming CC) and Rex Baxter Jr. (Klein HS). Toskovic was a late sign for SFA and averaged better than nine points and four rebounds while at Western Wyoming CC, while Baxter averaged better than 18 points per game and was a two-sport letter winner at Klein High School in the Houston area.
"We are very pleased to have both Danilo and Rex on our roster," Kaspar said. "Danilo was a late sign for us, but gives us some size on the perimeter and can shoot well, and to be able to get a quality player like Rex as a walk-on is really a bonus."