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Point guard priority for Stars

by Jason Avery | July 21, 2021 at 9:30 p.m.

If there has been one hallmark this offseason for South Arkansas Community College men’s basketball coach Nate Davis, it has been making sure the point guard position has been shored up.

The Stars have a plethora of new faces for the upcoming season and the majority of them are used to running offenses.

Of the new recruits coming in, El Dorado’s Isaiah Ramey, Junction City’s Zak Brown, Strong’s Emauri Newton, Nevada’s JaVontae Pearson and Fordyce’s Mantrel Neal all have an opportunity to guide the Stars, but they also have the versatility to play elsewhere on the court.

“Last year, we didn’t have a true one. We had a lot of two’s that we had to try and fill, so we’re really trying to build up with the point guards so we don’t have that issue again,” Davis said.

The Stars added El Dorado’s Rashad Wilson and Fordyce’s Jaylen Parham to beef up the frontline. El Dorado’s James Hartsfield brings his marksmanship from the perimeter to the Stars and Nevada’s Jared Todd can score either inside or outside. Dontavious Watts, Davis’ third signee from Nevada, brings versatility and can play at either guard or forward.

The Stars also landed forward Michael Pryor from Woodlawn (La.) and guard Kalen Houston is transferring in from SAU-Tech.

But the biggest addition the Stars have made this summer was landing Xavier Hall as a transfer from Ouachita Baptist. Hall, who played in 21 games in two years at OBU, was an All-State selection in his last two years at Dermott.

“I feel like Xavier is the missing piece to our puzzle,” Davis said. “We brought back key players and had some solid guard and wing play coming in, but he was the icing on the cake. Bringing in a couple of years at the NCAA D-2 level will be great for our program. I coached against him during his high school days and he was fun to watch. He can jump out of the gym and protect the rim. I can see him playing anywhere from the three to the five for us. His versatility makes him very hard to guard.”

The new additions will help bring size to the frontline, which the Stars lacked this past season.

“We’re very undersized. We’re the smallest team in the conference. We have been the last two years,” Davis said. “I’ve worked really hard at trying to get some recruits coming in, get a little more size and strength so we’re not getting pushed around down there in the paint.”

In their debut season, the Stars went 7-14 and posted one win in conference play. This past season, the Stars finished 5-15 and went winless in conference play after starting the year with a 4-1 record.

“The level of competition was a little bit different than what we had scheduled for non-conference,” Davis said. “I stressed that to the guys and tried to prep them for that. It just kind of hit us the first night in conference.

“We were competitive for the vast majority of these games. We just never could turn it on in the second half and finish a game out that we started or we were digging ourselves a hole early on in the first half. We just could never put two halves together. We were there mentally for one half or the other, it never really got back to there it was in non-conference. I don’t feel like these guys ever gave up. We looked back at National Park last year. On the road, we lost that game by 50-plus. This year, we lost to them by 13 and 10 at home, so we are making steps in the right direction.”

With many schools either opting out of last season or not being able to play due to the coronavirus pandemic, Davis said the Stars were fortunate to be able to play.

“We’re very grateful that we were able to play,” Davis said. “A lot of teams opted out, which I understand, but we were very fortunate enough to get to play, learn from our mistakes, grow from them and ultimately save a year of eligibility. It’s definitely, in my opinion, something we would’ve much rather have gone through than not.”

With the Stars a couple of months away from starting their third season, Davis is eager to get started.

“We’re laying the foundation. With some of the recruits that I have coming in, I feel like we are going to make that leap forward, handle business in non-conference and get prepared better for conference play and ultimately get those wins that we’ve been missing out on.”

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