ETSU to honor West before UT Martin game

Joe Avento • Updated Dec 7, 2018 at 9:22 PM

Nobody on the East Tennessee State basketball roster was even born when Alvin West was playing for the Bucs. They’ll likely learn a little bit about the career of the sharp-shooting guard from the late 1980s and early ’90s on Saturday.

West, who scored 1,115 points from 1987-91 for the Bucs teams that dominated the Southern Conference, died suddenly in August. ETSU will honor West before Saturday’s game against UT Martin at Freedom Hall. His family, former teammates and friends are expected to be in attendance.

“I think it’s going to be a special day for Alvin’s family and for the people who really knew and cared about him,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said.

West was part of the recruiting class that also included Mister Jennings, Greg Dennis and Major Geer — all 1,000-point scorers as well. ETSU won the Southern Conference tournament in West’s last three seasons and he was a big reason for the team’s success. In the three championship games at the Asheville Civic Center, he averaged 14.0 points and was chosen to the all-tournament team all three years.

“On Saturday, a lot of his former teammates are going to be here,” Forbes said. “In pregame practice, I’m going to have one of them talk to the team about Alvin, about his character, what he brought to ETSU and about his life. That’s the best way to learn, have one of the guys that knew him really well talk to them. All those guys, they do a good job of staying connected with the program. It’s always nice to have them in the building and we want to play well in front of them.”

Saturday’s game is set to begin at 4 p.m.


ETSU comes in 7-3 and five Bucs are scoring in double digits, led by Tray Boyd III at 12.4 points per game. Isaiah Tisdale is next at 11.6, followed by Jeromy Rodriguez at 11.4, Patrick Good at 11.1 and Bo Hodges at 10.8. Five players have led the team in scoring in the 10 games.

Boyd and Good — along with center Mladen Armus — missed some practice time this week with various ailments. They are all considered day-to-day and will be game-time decisions on Saturday.


UT Martin is 3-3 — 0-3 on the road — and coming off an 87-74 loss at Tulane on Wednesday. ETSU will be the second Southern Conference team the Skyhawks have played. They lost 77-60 to Mercer on Nov. 16.

Five different players had led the Skyhawks in scoring in their six games. Kevin Little leads the way at 15.0 points per game. Preston Parks averages 13.7, Derrick Hawthorne Jr. 12.7 and Delfincko Bogan 11.7.

“They have really good guards, they’re really quick and athletic,” Forbes said. “They score well from the perimeter. They have really quick hands and they force turnovers. It’s just a team that’s just a little undersized, but as we see a lot this time of year, they’re quick and can score.”


ETSU’s Rodriguez averages 12.0 rebounds a game, which ranks third nationally just behind Bowling Green’s Demajeo Wiggins (12.2) and Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy (12.1). He’s one the reasons the Bucs rank second in the country in rebounding margin at plus-15.1. Only Kentucky is better at 16.8.

Meanwhile, UT Martin is outrebounded by six on an average night, so the Bucs might be able to do some damage on the boards.


Saturday will be Star Wars Day as 21 members of the 501st Legion will be in costume. After the game, the Star Wars characters will be available for a photo and autograph session on the court.

It’s also faculty-staff appreciation night and ETSU employees can purchase up to four tickets to the game for half-price.

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