The fall semester is under way at East Tennessee State, and basketball coach Murry Bartow says all his players are present and accounted for.
“We’ve got 14 players, and all 14 are in class as we speak,” Bartow said Tuesday morning.
That includes Hunter Harris, the junior-college transfer from Nashville. Harris had to graduate from Volunteer State Community College this summer, and he was still awaiting clearance a week ago to become academically eligible at ETSU.
Bartow was obviously pleased to put that issue to rest.
Harris, a 6-7, 220-pound forward, averaged over 22 points and 13 rebounds last season at Volunteer State. He’s been described as the type of inside presence the Bucs currently don’t have on their roster.
“He’s obviously an important player for us,” said Bartow. “He has a big-time motor and was a second-team junior-college All-American last season. He was basically putting up a double-double every game, which not too many guys in the country were doing. And he’s not just a low-post player; he can go out and make shots.”
Harris is one of six newcomers at ETSU. (Ron Giplaye, a transfer from Providence, will have to sit out this season.) He and Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard, a 6-5, 250-pounder, are the only jucos in the group.
“Whenever you sign a junior-college player, you’re obviously hopeful they’ll come in and start,” said Bartow. “That’s not guaranteed, of course, and time will tell how that works out with Hunter and Kinard. It’s very important that both progress quickly.”
Gadsden-Gilliard, who came in from Roane State, was still trying to work his way into shape this summer. But he showed a variety of skills for a man his size in the limited team workouts.
Bartow, in fact, has a pretty good idea what most of his new guys are capable of, thanks to the expanded interaction between players and coaches in the offseason.
“We had them for five weeks, everybody but Ron and Hunter, so we know more than we once would have,” said Bartow. “They were able to go home for two weeks and catch their breath, and here we go again.”
The Bucs will go through a seven-week conditioning program before starting practice. The season opens Nov. 10 at Virginia Tech.