Official practice began for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions' basketball team on Sept. 26.
UAPB Head Basketball Coach George Ivory, who is entering his 11th year for the Golden Lions, spent much of the offseason building a roster combined of five junior college transfers, three senior leaders and a multitude of guys who have contributed in the past.
Along with senior guard Martaveous McKnight, senior guard Charles Jackson, senior forward Christian Robertson and sophomore forward Terrrance Banyard have also been deemed team leaders.
Martaveous McKnight led the team as a junior, scoring 18.6 points per game and garnering All-SWAC and national honors.
"We have quite a few guys coming back from last years team that we've put in leadership roles," Ivory said. "They're leading by example. We should be pretty good from that standpoint. McKnight, Jackson, Robertson and Banyard have stepped up and done a good job. It was a plus that they were here this summer and they were able to work with the new guys."
Ivory didn't sign a true freshman, but he did bring in five junior college transfers who will all compete for starting spots and rotation spots.
The five junior college transfers are:
- Shaun Doss, 6'3 guard, Iowa Western Community College
- Marquell Carter, 6'5 G/F, Holmes Community College
- Zavion Jackson, 6'3 G, Southwest Tennessee Community College
- Trevor Banks, 6/8 F, Mid-South Community College
- Isacc Bassey, 6'11 C, State Fair Community College
According to Ivory, the newcomers are fitting right in, and he can't wait to see it all flourish.
"They've really adjusted very well," the coach said. "They're working hard to compete for starting positions. It should be a pretty interesting season ahead. We have new guys that can come in and fill some voids."
Depth won't be an issue heading into the season as the Golden Lions have players on the roster who've started or played extended minutes. Guards Quamari Hardy and Cameron Posey both started at times last season, and they'll be leaned on for their experience. Guard Marcus Wallace will return from an injury that sidelined him all of last season, and after sitting out last season, Chris Smith will be full-go.
Preseason SWAC honors will be revealed shortly, and the Golden Lions are expected to be represented on the list. However, right now Ivory is making sure his players are locked in on their upcoming season. So far, he likes what they've brought to the practice court.
"The guys are approaching it every day with hard work," Ivory said. "Just trying to stay focused and get better every day."