PORTSMOUTH — The defending NAIA National Championship-winning Shawnee State men’s basketball program will play a full 30-game regular-season slate, with 16 of those contests taking place inside SSU’s Waller Gymnasium confines — as announced by the program on Monday afternoon.
Shawnee State begins its 2021-22 slate with three consecutive home affairs — the opener being against in-state foe Wilberforce on Tuesday (Oct. 26) at 7:30 p.m.
Union (Ky.), which won the 2020 Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and features 2021 NAIA All-American Markelle Turner in its lineup, comes to Shawnee State for a prime matchup on Monday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.
This key affair is followed by another major non-conference tuneup, with a rematch of the NAIA Opening Round Finals occurring against West Virginia Tech on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. — a game where the members of the 2021 NAIA National Championship team will be honored prior to tipoff.
Following the opening trio of home contests, Shawnee State makes the short trek up to Rio Grande the following Friday and Saturday — Nov. 12 and Nov. 13 — for the Bevo Francis Invitational.
The Bears play Rio Grande on Friday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. — before taking on a to-be-determined opponent the following afternoon at 5 p.m. in Newt Oliver Arena.
Shawnee State also has additional non-conference contests against Ohio Christian (Tuesday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. in Circleville), 2015 NAIA National Champion Dalton State, Ga. (Saturday, Nov. 27, 2 p.m. at Waller Gymnasium), and Kentucky Christian (Friday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m. at Waller Gymnasium).
As for the Mid-South Conference schedule, Shawnee State’s slate of games are as follows:
Thursday, Nov. 18 — Tennessee-Southern, 8 p.m., home
Saturday, Nov. 20 — Life, Ga., 4 p.m., home
Thursday, Dec. 2 — Lindsey Wilson, 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, away
Saturday, Dec. 4 — Cumberland, Tenn., 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT, away
Thursday, Dec. 16 — Pikeville, 8 p.m., home
Saturday, Dec. 18 — Cumberlands, Ky., 8 p.m., away
Monday, Jan. 3 — Thomas More, 4 p.m., away
Thursday, Jan. 6 — Georgetown, 8 p.m., home
Saturday, Jan. 8 — Campbellsville, 4 p.m., home
Thursday, Jan. 13 — Freed-Hardeman, 8 p.m., away
Saturday, Jan. 15 — Bethel, Tenn., 4 p.m., away
Thursday, Jan. 20 — Cumberland, Tenn., 8 p.m., home
Friday, Jan. 21 — Lindsey Wilson, 8 p.m., home
Thursday, Jan. 27 — Life (Ga.), 8 p.m., away
Saturday, Jan. 29 — Tennessee Southern, 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT, away
Thursday, Feb. 3 — Cumberlands, Ky., 8 p.m., home
Saturday, Feb. 5 — Pikeville, 8 p.m., away
Monday, Feb. 7 — Thomas More, 4 p.m., home
Thursday, Feb. 10 — Bethel, Tenn., 8 p.m., home
Saturday, Feb. 12 — Freed-Hardeman, 4 p.m., home
Thursday, Feb. 17 — Campbellsville, 8 p.m., away
Saturday, Feb. 19 — Georgetown, 8 p.m., away
All 16 home games will be televised at portal.stretchinternet.com/shawneest.
From a roster standpoint, Shawnee State will have to replace the output of first-ream NAIA All-Americans E.J. Onu and James Jones, as well as key roster components in Kobie Johnson and Bailey Davis — but have the pieces in place to make another successful sprint to the finish line.
In addition to returning three of its five starters (Honorable Mention all-MSC Amier Gilmore, Jakiel Wells and Issac Abergut), to go along with last year’s sixth man and second-team all-MSC honoree Miles Thomas, SSU also returns key bench players — Latavious Mitchell, Donoven Carlisle, Tre Beard, Shawn Paris, Jr. and Markus Geldenhuys — from last season’s roster.
Corie Blount Jr. will also be back after redshirting last year.
Along with the crop of returning talent, the Bears have a strong blend of incoming players, including Courtese Cooper and Khalil Donte’ Johnson, who transferred from NCAA Division I programs, and Dre Boyd, who played at NJCAA powerhouse John A. Logan last season.
In-state recruits Elijah Bishop and Jaiden Guice will push all of the above players for minutes as well, while fellow in-state recruit Feisal Crumby III — who will redshirt this coming season — rounds out the incoming class of six.
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