The East Tennessee State men’s basketball coach, whose team just embarked on its European trip, got 10 extra days of practice and he’s especially happy about the many different ways the Bucs can play.
“I think we have all kinds of different parts, different ways to play,” Forbes said. “We have a lot of versatility.”
To find evidence of that versatility, all you have to do is check out what Bo Hodges has been doing this summer. Hodges, who has played the shooting guard, small forward and power forward positions, has been working at point guard recently.
“Having a guy that can play that many positions is invaluable,” Forbes said. “I’m not telling you he’s the starting point guard, but it just gives us another ball-handler. We can play three point guards at one time.
“It’s nice to have several returners that know what they’re doing. They’re doing a good job of leading and teaching the new guys. Over the last three weeks, I’ve seen our team take a major step forward.”
The Bucs will play three games during their European adventure, which began this weekend. They will play once in the Czech Republic and twice in Hungary. The team will also visit Germany and Austria during its week-and-a-half educational trip.
Following is a player-by-player view at how Forbes assesses his team’s progress this summer.
6-4, Jr., Nashville
Hodges is already an All-Southern Conference performer, but he really has a chance to break out this season. Playing four positions, he’ll likely see the most playing time of his career.
Said Forbes: “He’s been tremendous in the weight room and on the court. I’ve been very impressed with him playing the point. The way he handles the ball, the way he distributes it, the way he runs the team. He’s really embraced it. Bo’s got a real high basketball IQ so he understands all the positions.”
Tray Boyd III
6-4, Sr., Memphis
Boyd was seen at a recent practice draining 3-pointers without a miss for almost 10 minutes. In his second year at ETSU, a lot is expected from the smooth lefty.
“Tray has shot the ball really well this summer. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s really bought in. A year’s really helped him.”
6-2, So., Winston-Salem, N.C.
With three years of eligibility left, the sky is the limit for the ultra-quick point guard.
“I’m pushing him to take the next step from a guy who was on the all-freshman team to a guy that can be an all-league player. He’s shown that he can. He’s by the far the fastest player on the team. I want him to be more of a leader on the floor. I want him to direct. I want him to think like a coach. He’s smart and he understands the game, so I know he can do those things.”
6-1, Sr., Lexington, Ky.
Tisdale shared time with Williamson at the point last year — making that position a solid one for the Bucs — and that’s an arrangement that will likely continue this season.
“He’s shown great leadership, just a solid guy. He can really drive the ball and he’s worked really hard at his jump shot.”
7-0, Sr., De Lier, Netherlands
N’Guessan would have broken the school record for shooting percentage last season had he shot enough to qualify for the stats. He made 73% of his field-goal attempts.
“He’s really playing with a lot of confidence. I don’t know if he’s come out of practice at all this summer. He never subs. He’s scoring the ball. The thing with Lucas is he has to play without fouling and continue to rebound his position. If he does those things, he’s going to be really hard to deal with.”
6-7, Sr., Gaithersburg, Md.
The graduate transfer from Central Connecticut State has made an immediate impact on and off the court.
“His game has really taken off the past two weeks. He can stretch the floor. He gives us something we haven’t had the past couple years: somebody with size that can score from the 3-point range.”
6-0, Jr., Johnson City
6-7, Sr., Santiago, Dominican Republic
Two all-conference players from last season haven’t been in action as the team prepared for its European trip.
Good is still rehabbing his surgically repaired hip. Rodriguez, who came back to the team for his senior season after announcing he would turn pro, has a foot injury that requires him to wear a walking boot.
“They haven’t even gotten in there yet, which makes it exciting for me because we’re practicing at a pretty high level
and we’re missing two all-league guys. Jeromy will be back probably before Pat. I would say September. They’re both working really hard with rehab.”
6-6, Fr., Pembroke Pines, Fla.
The freshman has a lot to learn about the college game, but his natural ability will get him a shot at playing time.
“He’s a guy who can play a couple of positions and he can really shoot it. He’s got a lot coming at him from a lot of different directions, but he’s showing he can shoot the ball.”
7-0, Jr., Reno, Nev.
The slender big man redshirted last year but should back up N’Guessan in the post during the coming season.
“Octavion has shown some flashes of being a guy that can help us. He’s gained weight and he’s shown he can protect the rim. He still has to get stronger, but he has the ability to block shots and change the game defensively.”
6-4, Jr., Louisville, Ky.
Patterson arrived at ETSU from John A. Logan College, the same school that produced former Bucs player Devontavius Payne.
“Tough, motor runs, rebounds, defends. Does a lot of the intangibles.”
6-9, Fr., Owings, Md.
Weber is the second of the two high school players in Forbes’ latest recruiting class.
“Charlie is big and athletic and is shooting at a high clip right now. He can rebound his position, too.”
6-5, Jr., Meridian, Miss.
Brewer has to sit out a year after transferring from Southeast Missouri State, but Forbes predicts big things.
“He’s shown he’s one of the most talented players on the team, a potential all-league player.”
6-5, Fr., Bristol, Tenn.
A walk-on for the Bucs, Webb was a second-team selection on the Times News/Johnson City Press All-Northeast Tennessee team last season while playing for Tennessee High.