Finally Back With A Few Thoughts

It’s been quite a few months since I’ve blogged about my favorite basketball program. In fact my last post was after the first game of the season!  Unexpected family and work situations monopolized my time. I am grateful for the four dozen or so emails I received from those who have read my blog and missed my commentary but were more just worried about me as a person.  It meant a lot to me. Thanks guys.  I’ll ruminate on the season that was past later so I’ll just jump straight into the now.

All that being said I’ve never seen a program coming off a 24 win season where not only did it make an appearance in the postseason but won a game (opinions of that particular postseason tournament withstanding) have so many questions.

First the expected issues. The Bulldogs are losing two All-Conference guys who will have a chance to make an NBA team, another who should have a nice career in Europe, and a utility guy who was an important two year contributor. That’s a lot for any program to have to recover from.

Then the unexpected. Nikita Johnson the associate head coach leaves for USL to take a job with one of his good friends. I can’t blame him. If I could make more/similar money working with one of my best friends I’d be gone in a second. The problem with Johnson leaving is that he was the recruiting coordinator and almost the entire fall signing class was his recruits. {The following is opinion}His leaving probably means DJ Wright and Scottie Farrington for sure won’t be in Ruston.  It appears Ruston native Josh Brown will follow Coach Johnson to ULL as well. No clue on Deuce Johnson.

Holton Hunsaker should be in Ruston next year  since he is from the Utah connection (Rupp/Condie) on the coaching staff.

Five scholarship players should return next season.  DeAndre Brown and Olu Ashalou (both double digits scorers) will be the foundation for the team. Also returning is Shawn Oliverson, Brandon Gibson (off a medical redshirt), and Darius Redding.  Anson Bartlett returns as a walk-on who played scholarship minutes. Other walk-ons who were on the roster that return include Tevin Hall, Justin Rake, and Andres Marmolejo (redshirted).

You can do the math. That could mean as many as seven more scholarship players to add! It will probably take Coach Rupp until near the mid May deadline to sign all those players. Plus it’ll be interesting to see who Coach Rupp brings in to fill the open assistant position and what recruits he may bring with him.

As I read the BB&B to catch up I see the familiar gripe about Louisiana Tech not signing the local player. This time the fuss is over T.J. Williams who is listed as 6’7ish and is reportedly an on the block post player from Jonesboro Hodge. Williams signed with Texas San Antonio (a Southland school). Posters have compared him as having similar size to Paul Millsap, Tiger Meeking, and Olu Ashalou and therefore Tech should have signed him. I have two problems with this thought process.  One Millsap, Meeking, and Ashalou all had proven themselves on the national AAU circuit and were top 100 players rated nationally. Millsap and Meeking had SEC offers while Ashalou was a Big East commit before switching to the Bulldogs. According to the website for Louisiana Select AAU Williams played for the same AAU program and national schedule as Millsap and Meeking in the summer yet his best offer was UTA? Also if Williams dominated at the Top 28 Louisiana state championship why did no Louisiana school offer him a scholarship? There are 3 Louisiana Southland schools. My opinion is that if Mr. Williams had been from Lake Charles instead of Jonesboro no one would care that Tech didn’t offer him.

All in all it should be exciting to follow the program over the next few weeks and I’m glad to be back writing about it and hope to continue at my previous pace.

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