ETSU Basketball: 2020-21 season preview for Buccaneers

ETSU Basketball followed a heartbreaking end to a dream season with a busy offseason. Let’s analyze their outlook for 2020-21.

The 2019-20 ETSU Basketball Buccaneers were living out a dream season: the best record in program history (30-4), SoCon regular season and tournament titles, a nearly unblemished conference record.

They were riding a 12-game winning streak, having just dominated the competition in the SoCon Tournament, and were expecting a great seed in the NCAA Tournament when March Madness was canceled.

Now, six months later, they have a roster that is almost unrecognizable and a new head coach. Let’s take a look at what’s next for the Buccs after a busy offseason.

A Tumultuous Offseason

One of ETSU’s major keys to success last season was its depth. They weren’t reliant on one star. Instead, they went seven players deep with capable scorers. However of those seven players, only one, Patrick Good, returns to the roster this season.

All-Conference performers Tray Boyd and Jeromy Rodriguez, and starters Isaiah Tisdale and Lucas N’Guessan were lost to graduation. First-Team All-Conference honoree Bo Hodges and third-leading scorer Daivien Williamson transferred to Butler and Wake Forest, respectively. 91 percent of the team’s points went out the door during the offseason, which has to be one of the largest numbers in the nation.

And the players weren’t the only ones who left Johnson City. Head coach Steve Forbes accepted the opening at Wake Forest, taking Williamson and prized Tennessee transfer Jalen Johnson with him. In his five-year tenure at ETSU, Forbes led the Buccs to at least 24 wins in every season and two NCAA Tournament appearances.

Incoming Help

The roster isn’t completely bare for Good and company. As usual, the Buccs brought in a number of DI transfers that should help out immediately.

Big man Silas Adheke, a grad transfer from Northern Kentucky, and Southeastern Louisiana transfer Ty Brewer will team up with 2020 holdover Vonnie Patterson and three-star recruit Richard Amaefule to help shore up the frontcourt.

Kansas State transfer Donald Sloan and Maryland transfer Serrell Smith, pending waivers, should add some scoring punch in the backcourt alongside Good, SEMO transfer Ledarrius Brewer and a pair of impact freshmen in Truth Harris and Marcus Niblack.

New Coach

The Buccs new head coach is one of the only recognizable faces around the team this season. ETSU replaced Forbes with assistant Jason Shay, who was on staff for the entirety of Forbes’ tenure.

Shay is well-respected among the coaching ranks and has had some impressive stops on his way up the ladder, including on Bruce Pearl’s staffs at Tennessee and UW-Milwaukee.

Shay is known for his defensive ability and should help provide some continuity in the program after an offseason full of change.

What to Expect

The only sure thing coming into this season is that Good, a Johnson City native, will need to carry the torch over from last season’s hugely successful campaign. The graduate senior guard will be the main on-court thread to help this talented new hodgepodge of players gel.

There’s no telling what actually might happen this season due to COVID-19, but the Buccs are scheduled to take on Mississippi State, UAB, and Bucknell in the nonconference, as well as a not-yet-determined opponent in the Cancun Challenge (which will be taking place in Florida this year).

The Buccs have the talent to compete in a tough SoCon, but the big question will be whether the offseason turnover was too much for one squad to handle.