COLUMBUS, Ohio – It will be a transitional, yet dynamic year for the Columbus State Cougars under second year head coach Ed Thompson. Thompson made huge strides last year and built a strong foundation for the future of the program, which will be fully DIII beginning in the 2016-17 year.
The Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) is in one of the toughest conferences in the country and the Cougars know they have to work hard to get into the district tournament. They are seeking to improve on their 8-20 (3-11 OCCAC) record from a year ago. According to Coach Thompson, "we were a young team last year so we went through those growing pains."
Thompson is optimistic about this year's squad. "There is cohesiveness within the team and everyone seems to respect their role. The guys are buying into it and with a half dozen returners, there is a lot of leadership on and off the court."
Sophomore guard Robert Caldwell (Dayton/Stivers School for the Arts) headlines the returners after a solid freshman campaign. "Robert brings an offensive threat to the court," said Coach Thompson. "I expect him to build on what he accomplished last season." Caldwell averaged 11.6 points and was the team's second leading scorer, in addition to, being named Honorable Mention all-conference.
Sophomore guard Carlton Crowder (Groveport/Groveport HS) averaged 7.6 points and three rebounds per game last season. Thompson has high hopes for Crowder, saying "I expect him to hustle and count on his ability to get to the basket."
Sophomore forward Lamarr Barnes (Columbus/Marion-Franklin HS) averaged 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds and was the third leading rebounder for the Cougars last season. With the highest shooting percentage (44.6%) from the returners, Barnes should be a threat on the frontcourt. Thompson adds, "I anticipate Lamarr to top our conference in rebounds."
The Columbus State Cougars team also features two NCAA DII transfers, guard Kenneth Moore (Glenville State) and forward Nic Williams (Wheeling Jesuit). Both Moore and Williams bring a depth to the court with their experience. "We're sharing the basketball and playing for the team, something not often seen at this level," Thompson said.
Joining Barnes and Williams in the frontcourt are sophomores, center Travon Hester (Columbus/Briggs HS), forward Jeffery Powell (Indianapolis, IN/Lawrence Central HS), and forward Patrick Ngene-Igwe (Columbus/Beechcroft HS) who was on the 2013-14 squad. Freshmen include center Richard Bulgin (Westerville/Westerville South HS) and forwards Rodney Willis (Columbus/Briggs), Chris Byrd (Columbus/Columbus South HS), and John Montgomery (Columbus/Marion-Franklin HS).
In the backcourt, Caldwell, Crowder and Moore are joined by sophomore guard Donte Smith (Columbus/Northland HS) and freshman guards Johnnie Robinson (Akron/St. Vincent St. Mary HS), Lloyd Chapman (Reynoldsburg/Reynoldsburg HS), Kyle Oglesby (Columbus/Eastmoor HS), and Grant Dierksheide (Worthington/Worthington Kilbourne HS).
Columbus State opens the regular season at the Danville Area Tournament on Fri, Oct. 30 against Danville. The Cougars will open the home schedule on Sat, Nov. 14 at Noon versus Wayne County Community College.
For the complete schedule, click here.