Replenishing the talent pool

Elias Harden, who has joined the Georgetown College men's basketball program, started 29 games for NCAA Division I Jacksonville State in the 2019-20 season. 

Some teams and fan bases would find it worrisome if a trio of players with Chris Coffey, Eljay Cowherd and Jacob Conway’s talent walked out of the gym for the final time in the same year.

And understandably so. Coffey was merely NAIA player of the year for Georgetown College, while Cowherd carved out his niche as perhaps the most prolific point guard in school history.

Conway came into his own as a junior and senior, joining the other two in the 1,000-point club. Most importantly, all three were part of an NAIA championship in 2019 and were seeded No. 1 in the quest for a second when this year’s tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.

How do you even begin to fill that void? Well, at GC, it’s all part of a reload-and-refocus culture that’s made the Tigers one of the top programs in the nation at its level for decades.

Georgetown has wasted no time this summer serving notice that its talent base will be replenished and plenty capable of competing for another title in the Mid-South Conference and beyond this season.

On its Twitter feed, GC recently  announced the addition of five players to the fold for the 2020-21 campaign.

Among those newcomers, one’s name will ring a bell and tip off the reality that he isn’t “new” at all.

Brodricks “Buddah” Jones, a 6-foot-11 forward who was a starter during GC’s run to the 2019 national title in Kansas City, is back with the Tigers for one more go-round after a one-year hiatus.

Jones, a native of Los Angeles, initially transferred to the Tigers  from the University of Wyoming.

That makes him one of two incoming players with proven success at the NCAA Division I level. GC also announced that Elias Harden, a 6-5 wing who was in the starting lineup for 29 of 32 games at Jacksonviille State University this past season, also figures to be an immediate impact player.

Additions from the upper echelon of college hoops and top junior college talent are a common off-season theme at GC. 

Falling into the latter category is Markelo Sullivan. A graduate of Fairdale High School in Louisville, Sullivan, a 6-foot-4 guard, was an NJCAA honorable mention All-America last season for Moberly Area Community College.

The other two additions are freshmen. Seth Johnson is a 6-3 guard from Crestwood and South Oldham High School, while Rashad Bishop is a 6-7 forward out of perennial Louisville power Ballard.

Great Crossing High School standout K.J. Tucker previously signed with the Tigers. GC also added two other freshmen, Trey Jones of Bowling Green and Chad Ohmer of Scott High, giving the program at least eight new faces.

Jones appeared in 31 games for the 2018-19 Tigers, starting all but nine. 

He hit his stride in the all-important second semester and wound up with averages of eight points and four rebounds per game.

He’s a deadeye shooter for his size. Jones led the team that season by making 89 percent of his free throws, and he was one of six Tigers to sink at least 30 3-point baskets in the championship campaign.

In the tweet announcing Jones’ return, the GC staff described him as a “versatile demon on defense.”

Harden was a consistent threat from the wing at Jacksonville State, where he averaged seven points per game as a junior for the Gamecocks.

“Elias should make an impact on both ends of the floor with his size, skill and versatility,” the Tigers said in their brief scouting report.

Sullivan, whose first name is pronounced with a long “e,” dazzles from long range. He connected at a 43 percent clip from beyond the 3-point arc at Moberly last season.

“This smooth sniper has deep range and will scorch nets in a hurry,” is the skinny on Sullivan.

Bishop continues GC’s prolific pipeline from Louisville. He averaged 12 points and five rebounds per contest at Ballard in 2019-20.

The Tigers hailed Bishop’s background from the Seventh Region while describing him as “talented, humble and hungry.”

Johnson, a 6-foot-3 guard, nailed 44 percent of his 3-point tries at South Oldham while scoring 20 points per game as a senior.

“Seth is a legacy player whose father played for Georgetown College,” the team announced. “His 3-point shot is as pure as they come. He has great ball-handling and passing skills.”

Senior guard Jake Ohmer leads the returning talent for Georgetown, which should also have Kyran Jones, Jaquay Wales, Michael Turay, Omari Tyler and Derrin Boyd back in the fold.

GC went 30-2 in 2019-20 and was ranked No. 1 in all but one coaches’ poll during the season. The Tigers’ only two defeats were by a single basket in conference play.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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