Nov. 6, 2012
This is the third 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: Hal Bateman, Antonio Bostic, Desmond Haymon, Thomas Walkup
NEWCOMERS: Trey Pinkney, Adam Perez, Jared Harrison, Deshaunt Walker
NACOGDOCHES, Texas -Stephen F. Austin made it an off-season priority to deepen its backcourt and did just that with three newcomers, but it is the four returners from a year ago that likely make the SFA backcourt the strongest part of the 2012-13 roster.
Antonio Bostic headlines the Lumberjack guards, just one year after earning first team all-Southland Conference honors. He was one of just two Lumberjacks to start all 32 games a year ago, while Desmond Haymon returns after making 28 starts as a true sophomore. That experience, along with senior Hal Batemanprojected to slide into the starting point guard role gives SFA a luxury it did not have a year ago with its backcourt - experience.
That trio will be joined by Thomas Walkup, a redshirt freshman who sat out last season with a foot injury, and a trio of new point guards, two of which hail from the high school ranks.
"We are fortunate to have three guys back who played very significant roles for us last year," head coach Danny Kasparsaid. "Antonio obviously was an all-conference selection, but Desmond also made huge strides as a player and Hal played an important role off the bench for us at point guard."
Between those three players the `Jacks return more than 80 percent of its backcourt points from 2011-12, led by Bostic's 11.3 scoring average. A lanky senior with arguably the best mid-range game in the Southland, Bostic burst onto the scene as SFA's floor leader a year ago and logged more than 34 minutes per game, which was third in the league.
He scored in double figures 20 times, but was also efficient in his shots, hitting nearly 43 percent from the floor; however, the coaching staff feels like he can be even better in his final season. Just a 27 percent three-point shooter a year ago, the coaches feel as though Bostic can improve upon that number, primarily due to a deeper roster that should keep Bostic more fresh throughout the season.
"Antonio carried a big load for us last season, and hopefully we won't have to rely on him quite as much as we did last year," Kaspar said. "We still expect him to be very good, but if we get the contributions we hope for and expect from some other guys, then hopefully we will be more balanced throughout."
Aside from Bostic, the `Jacks also welcome back Haymon and Bateman, each of whom are projected to be in the starting lineup when SFA opens the season. Last year Haymon made a successful return from a wrist injury as a true freshman to average 8.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, numbers which are expected to increase as a junior. He led the `Jacks in three-point buckets, but also brings a game which allows him to deliver points in traffic.
Meanwhile Bateman may have provided the most exciting, and most important moment of the season for SFA's 2011-12 season when he drove the length of the court and hit a buzzer-beating three-point bucket to knock off Texas State on the road in the conference opener. That shot propelled the `Jacks to a 4-0 start in league play and eventually to a 12-4 finish. Though just 5-11, Bateman brings electric athleticism to the court with the ability to penetrate and finish at the rim.
"We don't finish last season where we do if it were not for the contributions we received from both Desmond and Hal," Kaspar said.
Another addition that could prove to be key is Walkup, a 6-4 athletic guard who can not only play in the backcourt but also at small forward. He had to sit out last season, but has worked hard to get back into shape and enters the season looking as though he will see court time early in the year. He was one of SFA's top signees two years ago out of Deer Park High School, averaging 25.9 points and 8.5 rebounds as a senior.
"Thomas has had a tough last two years, but he has not let it get him discouraged," Kaspar said. "He has worked extremely hard to get back to where he is now and it is impressive the progress he's made."
The `Jacks have also brought in a quartet of new guards to round out the roster in Deshaunt Walker, Jared Harrison, Trey Pinkney and Adam Perez. Harrison, Pinkney and Perez will likely see the majority of his time at point guard, although Perez may buy some minutes at the off-guard slot along with Walker, who will be the primary option off the bench behind Bostic. Walker played behind the top recruit in the nation, Marshall Henderson, last season at South Plains College where they pulled out a national title. A native of Silver Springs, Md., Walker is regarded as the top perimter shooter on this year's roster and hit nearly 39 percent of his shots from beyond the arc as a sophomore last year.
Harrison comes to SFA after averaging double figures in each of his first two years at the college level at Conners State College in Oklahoma. He immediately comes in as one of the more well-rounded scoring threats SFA has had running the point in recent years and shot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc a year ago.
Pinkney was one of the most decorated players in the Houston area in recent seasons, starting four seasons at Katy's Seven Lakes High School and earning all-district honors each of those seasons while leading SVHS to 118 wins in his career. He led them to the Class 5A state playoffs in three of his four season and brings a style of play similar to former SFA point guard Eric Bell, who helped SFA to a pair of SLC crowns himself.
Meanwhile, while Pinkney was one of the most decorated players in the Houston area, Perez held a similar stature in San Antonio where the 5-11 guard lettered three seasons at Clark High School. He was named the MVP of District 27-5A as a senior, a 10-team league and, according to Kaspar, the toughest district in the San Antonio area.