The Opponent: Texas State Bobcats
Date: November 14, 2021
Last season: 18-7 (12-3 Sun Belt), 183rd in KenPom
Terrence Johnson stepped in as Texas State’s interim head coach prior to last season, after former head coach Danny Kaspar resigned due to allegations of racially insensitive remarks, and held things together well enough for the Bobcats to win the Sun Belt regular season title though they got bounced by Appalachian State in their first game of the Sun Belt tournament to extend a 24-year NCAA Tournament drought. Still, it’s kind of hard not to make the interim coach the permanent head coach when he wins a conference title.
The losses off last year’s squad are pretty minimal. 6’7” forward Alonzo Sule (7.8 ppg/3.2 rpg) transferred to James Madison, and while he was a decent rebounder and shot blocker, he was a rather inefficient offensive player. Quentin Scott (3.3 ppg/1.8 rpg) transferred to Tulane after averaging 12 minutes a game, and 6’2” backup guard Marlin Davis (4.5 ppg/3.5 rpg/4.1 apg) appears to have just graduated and moved on.
Like a lot of mid-majors, Texas State will have a couple of super seniors who are unexpectedly back in super-efficient 6’8” forward Isiah Small (10.9 ppg/5.8 rpg), who shot nearly 60 percent on twos and 44 percent on threes last season, and 6’3” guard Shelby Adams (6.3 ppg/4.2 rpg.) Also returning are the team’s two leading scorers last season in 5’9” Mason Harrell (13.9 ppg/3.3 apg) and 6’3” Caleb Asberry (13.3 ppg/4.3 rpg), both seniors. Top reserve Nighael Ceaser (5.2 ppg/2.6 rpg), a 6’8” senior, also returns and will probably step into the starting spot vacated by Sule.
Some underclassmen who didn’t play a ton last season are also back; the most notable for this season is probably 6’8” sophomore Nate Martin (2.0 ppg/1.6 rpg.)
Oddly, Texas State wasn’t terribly active in the transfer portal; the only player added was Nate Lacewell, a transfer from San Jose State who averaged 2.7 ppg and 2.8 rpg as a freshman, but he does add size at 6’9” and 210 pounds. Also adding size is 6’9” freshman Brandon Love.
Other than that, they added a couple of JUCOs; the most notable is 6’1” guard Drue Drinnon, who transferred from Navarro College after starting eight games as a freshman at New Mexico. 6’5” junior Tyrel Morgan and 6’2” sophomore Davion Coleman could contribute right away after coming from the JUCO level, too. 6’4” freshman Dalen Whitlock is the other newcomer.
Texas State probably wasn’t as good in 2020-21 as their 18-7 record indicated; KenPom had them as the third-best team in the Sun Belt. Regardless, they return a solid core from that squad and while they don’t have any obviously notable additions, that should be plenty to contend for another Sun Belt title. This is the kind of scheduling that is very smart: Texas State probably won’t actually beat Vanderbilt (though they could give the Commodores a good game), but they’ll put up a good record and help the strength of schedule.