What WKU knows after Hysteria – Part 2


Welcome to the second part of our Hilltopper Hysteria recap, where we go player by player and talk about how they did on Saturday, and how they’ll benefit WKU this coming season. We left off with Avery Patterson yesterday, so lets pick things up with the big man, who is back and healthy. [ed. note – you can read part 1 here, if you missed it yesterday.]

Part two of the dynamic big men is featured by number “20” Aleksej or Alex Rostov. Rostov is a junior who was knocked out of the latter part of last year’s campaign due to a blood clot, but I think he will be back and bring more to the team than he did before. Alex has been a nice force to have on the court when available, but he may find his time split in part with Ben Lawson more this season that last. One specific thing I notice about Alex on Saturday was his post moves; he has always been able to get boards, but at some points last season, I questioned his skills putting the ball back up on offensive rebounds. Based on what Rostov displayed at Hysteria, I don’t believe I will have to question things much longer. Rostov looked overall much better than before, and looks like he has also put on more weight. Between him and Lawson, the post for the Tops could be very pleasing to watch unlike seasons past.

Nigel Snipes will wear “21” this year, and this is a name that just hasn’t produced like his athletic build should. Snipes is a stout 6-6 and has the “potential” to contribute to the team, but like years past, I beckon the question – will he? That is obviously to be determined, but I truly hope he can. His shooting ability is there, his post presence can be provided, but will it come to fruition on the court. We shall see…

Next up is a guy who continues to impress me more and more each and every time that I see him play, and that is number “23” from Hazard, KY; Justin Johnson. Johnson was a Mr. Kentucky basketball finalist, but in my book, he should have earned that title. When I first watched him play in practice, I didn’t even know who the guy was, but as the practice progressed, he continued to impress and definitely caused me to remember his name. After Saturday night, I am confidently saying Justin Johnson will be a huge contributor to this Hilltopper team immediately. Johnson made a case for himself as he put up a not too shabby 14 points and 13 rebounds in the 20 minute scrimmage, and was a participant in the dunk contest. His ability to get to the rim, secure rebounds,  and finish the post play is a sight that I know I will continue to see throughout the season. His work ethic and ability to play the four-position, right next to either Lawson or Rostov is going to be very fun to watch folks.

This next guy is one that impressed me from the moment I saw him in practice, and despite not starting in the scrimmage, I still see him having an impact on this team very early in the season. This player being 2014 Mr. Basketball for the state of Tennessee, number “33” Rob Marberry. Marberry has the ability to make great plays both offensively and defensively. Just like many of his fellow teammates, his ability to get to the rim was phenomenal. I look forward to be able to watch his overall skill set be displayed on the court in true form.

This next guy, you all know his number, you know is name, George Fant “44”. Now, I probably won’t be a fan favorite by saying this, but folks, as I see it right now, Fant only offers this team experience. Experience is always a good thing, but to me, George just doesn’t bring much to the table. He has the right size, he has the talent, but he doesn’t produce like he should. He should be a leading contributor on the stats sheet for this team, but going off of last year, that wasn’t the case. He has the size to grab rebounds and put them back up for second chance points, but that normally isn’t the end result when he has the ball. He can draw fouls, which is never a bad thing, but once you get to the free throw line, you need to convert them, don’t you think? I personally like George, he seems like a nice guy, but give a guy like Justin Johnson a chance to gain experience and perform admirably, then I like Johnson on the court more-so than Fant. Closing point: this is Fant’s last year to leave an impression, he needs to make this an entire campaign one long statement.

Can you say C-H-D, or should I say C-H-3? Chris Harrison-Docks will wear “51” this year, and just like last year, he will provide an array of amazing shots that you just know won’t go in, and then they do. I like to compare CHD with a somewhat known guy named Jimmer Fredette. CHD has the range that Jimmer has and when Chris in on, he is plain on fire. In the scrimmage at Hysteria, CHD knocked down four three pointers with a total of 14 points. He’ll be another big contributor this year and looks to be just as fun to watch this year as he was last.

Last up, but definitely not least, is number “52”, Sir T.J. Price. I’m truly excited to watch T.J. this year, as I think this team can truly be his. He is a great leader in my opinion, and I think that this year WILL be a statement year for him. He has an arsenal of skill sets that we have seen him display over the years, and I can’t wait for him to display them yet again for one final go-around.

"We are trying to help each other get better every day, and hopefully will go into Conference USA and win. We have high expectations… We have to prove to people that we can play in this conference, so there is a lot of excitement going around right now, but we have to win a lot of games and get people to come back.– Justin Johnson"

More from Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Those quotes from Mr. Justin Johnson himself concluding Hilltopper Hysteria. This team has a huge target on its back being the new guys in C-USA, and yes they do have high expectations. However, Ray Harper and company have put together a jam packed roster full of experience, youth, and excitement for this 2014-15 campaign. So buckle your seat belt, it’s going to be a fun year.