The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The GC Basketball Team Will be better this year

Cathy Cox, President of GC, supporting the team

The return of basketball season is upon us once more, and the GC Men’s basketball team is hungry to avenge a disappointing 2022-23 campaign. Last year, the Bobcats were a young team that struggled to build on the positive momentum of their prolific 2021-22 season, in which the team finished with a 21-8 record and earned an appearance in the Division 2 NCAA tournament. 

The woes of the 2022-23 season were largely the result of the team’s struggle to find a concrete sense of identity on the hardwood. They were in their first year with new head coach, Ryan Aquino and sorely missed Jordan Thomas and Wesley Simpson who both played their last year for the Bobcats in 2021-22. 

Thomas ended his impressive career by averaging 17 points per game in his final season as a Bobcat, and cementing himself as the all-time leading scorer in GC’s men’s basketball history. In one of the most memorable moments of his final season, he eclipsed 1000 career points with a 17 point outing in late January, against Columbus State University. 

Simpson provided a dynamic presence at point guard for the Bobcats. He was the team’s leader in assists, a reliable double digit scorer that treated fans to numerous steals and blocks on the defensive end which illuminated his breathtaking athleticism. These two worked in tandem, along with a deep roster of good supporting players to help vault the team to 3rd in the PBC with a 9-4 conference record. 

However, after the end of the 2022 season, the Bobcat’s future was very uncertain. The team lost Head Coach Mark Gainous, who stepped down after eight seasons of leading the Bobcats, commanding a 115-99 record in his tenure. This only added to the challenge’s the program already faced, as the loss of Thomas and Simpson left the team without its two primary threats. 

The 2022-23 season was a difficult one, especially given that the previous season was one of the most successful in school history. The Bobcats went 9-18 overall and finished 2nd to last in the PBC with a conference record of 5-13. 

The team struggled to generate points on offense, and get stops on defense. However, hope was maintained in the emergence of a new star, Point Guard Brendan Rigsbee became the team’s primary option on offense in just his first year with the team. He also led the team in rebounds and finished 2nd on the team in blocks, showing his versatility on both ends of the floor. 

The team also benefited from an efficient year from Forward Austin Sloan, who recorded 9.8 PPG on a team high 48% FG shooting. Guard Richard Crawford led the team in assists, with 3 per game. 

The team and myself are confident that the Bobcats will be much better this year, Forward Luke Chism is returning from an injury that sidelined him for all of last year, when on the court, he provides plenty of scoring and great rebounding for the Bobcats. The team has also acquired Najhae Colón from Atlantic Cape University who averaged 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in his time with the Buccaneers. 

The Bobcat’s international appeal will also be on full display this year, with 7 footer Dallas Clayton arriving from Auckland, New Zealand. He is currently injured, but will be a formidable paint presence when he re-takes the court. 

Redshirt Sophomore Guard and Exercise Science Major Ian Davis is confident that his team stands poised to be significantly improved in comparison to last season due to its vastly improved teammate chemistry and extensive offseason preparation. “We have a much younger group this year that has more love for being there and we are a lot closer as a whole.”

“It’s still on us to perform and do what it takes to truly have a better season than last year, but I can assure you we are doing all the things off the court to make it happen.” Said Davis. 

Davis will also be an important piece for this year’s Bobcats squad, as he can knock down long three pointers with ease and is a shifty guard who can get to his spot in the mid-range as well. He averaged 8 points per game last season, and will likely adopt a larger role as a swing player who will lead the offense for the Bobcats second unit. 

I amalso  hoping to see Rigsbee further elevate his offensive game in his sophomore campaign. If he can establish himself as a reliable 15-17 ppg scorer while continuing to play great defense, this will open up the floor for the rest of the Bobcats roster. If Austin Sloan is able to  continue to provide efficient scoring and gets into the double digits regularly, this will only help them further.

Ryan Aquino will step further into his role as the head coach. He has a great mind for the game and will work tirelessly to ensure the Bobcats are game ready. He played basketball at GC and earned 2011-12 PBC First Team recognitions while averaging a double-double in his senior season.

I believe that the elevation and development of Rigsbee’s game, the heightened ability of the team to work as parts of a fluid whole and Aquino’s enhanced comfort in his positiion as head coach will restore the winning culture in GC basketball. Contributions from supporting players like Sloan, Davis and Crawford will be paramount in propelling this team into the top half of the PBC. 

The team’s first regular season game is on Nov. 11th in Dahlonega, GA against the Limestone Saints from Columbia, SC. The Saints finished 13-16 in the regular season last year with a 8-10 record in the South Atlantic Conference. 

The team will not be at home for a long stretch at the beginning of the season, they will return to the Centennial Center for their first home game on Jan. 6 against USC Aiken, a conference opponent. I am thrilled to see what these Bobcats can do this season, and I firmly feel that they will have a much better record this year.   


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