Practice Report: WKU Basketball opens season


As the weather begins to get colder, it means the basketball season is drawing even closer. The doors of Diddle Arena opened yesterday to give the media a much anticipated look at what the new WKU basketball squad will look like this upcoming season. Going off of first impressions, the Tops sure didn’t disappoint.

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The returning guys looked solid. Sophomore

Ben Lawson

looked to have gained some extra pounds, while also adding experience to his skill set after participating in the U-20 European championship. Although the returning members are always relevant, the main feature of the day was the guys who were acquired during the offseason.

For starters, the big name added to the Hilltopper squad in Ayinde Sprewell. Sprewell looked just as expected, athletic, potent, and experienced. The Juco transfer from Daytona State College seems to be a great acquisition for Ray Harper and company as he looks to provide a swagger of athleticism that will help provide ball handling skills while also being able to handle the post with efficiency.

Another player who caught my eye right off the bat was freshman guard D.J. Clayton from Oakland, California. Clayton is listed as 6-6 and should be a great play maker if he uses his height to his advantage. I really like his potential to play at the two-position, as he has the length to create space while attempting contested shots. There were a few instances where he was tied up in drills due to his ball handling skills, but that is something that can be developed which will enable him to have more potency in his play making ability.

The third player in the fresh crop is freshman guard Avery Patterson out of Georgia. Patterson is listed as 6-0, but in my eyes it seems like that figure may be slightly generous. Despite his height, Patterson looked extremely athletic and despite his youth, seemed very experienced in handling the ball. He seemed as if he could be a very good floor general and a great qualifier for depth at the one.

Next up is 2014 Kentucky Mr. Basketball candidate Justin Johnson. Sadly, Johnson had completely skipped my radar as potent members of the squad, but after today he is definitely one of the top guys in this crop of recruits. Johnson is listed as a 6-7 forward, and I truly liked his post play just after watching for a short while. He hustled throughout the entirety of the drills, keeping up and making plays with guys like George Fant and Lawson. Johnson is going to be a guy that will make great plays both offensive and defensively in the post, and while having an effect on the court this season, he will also have the ability to learn from players like Fant which will definitely mature him as a collegiate player faster.

Last up is 2014 Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball Rob Marberry out of Nashville. To be honest, coming into practice today I didn’t have high expectations for Marberry. Of course I hadn’t seen him play, but after reading bios and facts on him in the spring, he seemed like a guy that had a great high school career, but wouldn’t come close to the same production at the college level. To be blunt, I was ignorant for even having these thoughts after what I saw today. Marberry went above and beyond the expectations I had and looks to be a huge addition for the Tops. He is listed as 6-8, and he is every bit of it. He made great plays both defensively and offensively, and his ability to get to the rim and make a play was phenomenal, and folks it’s just day one for the guy. I think Marberry could be the most immediate effective player out of the newly enrolled freshman group, and I look forward to be able to watch his skill set be displayed on the court in true form.

Like I said, the main theme that Coach Harper talked about today was the depth that this year’s team has compared to what he has had in his arsenal the few seasons of Harpermania. Coach Harper expressed his excitement for what this season can bring with such an experienced and talented team that has room to work with as far as depth goes. So in my book, if Ray Harper is saying he is excited, then I’m following suit. It is almost that time folks, basketball is just around the corner.