Clarksville, TN – Three of the Matt Figger era of the Austin Peay State University (APSU) men’s basketball officially began Tuesday at the Little Red Barn as the Govs rolled out the racks in preparation for the 2019-20 campaign.
The Terry Taylor Show rolls on, and he’ll be counted on more than ever in 2019-20 after back-to-back All-OVC campaigns to begin his career.
He’s the only rising junior in the country who has accrued 1000 points and 500 rebounds while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor over the last two seasons, and one of 11 players across the nation to post those numbers the last two seasons.
One of those—Dylan Windler—parlayed his performance at Belmont into first-round draft pick status last June.
Taylor can’t shoulder the load alone, and there’s a blend of returners, fresh-faced newcomers and upper-class transfers to help ease the burden. Governor fans got to see plenty of Antwuan Butler a year ago—the Philadelphia native played 27 games and made five starts, displaying the ball control and tenacity necessary to pilot Figger’s offense.
The other two returners expect to play expanded roles in 2019-20. Injury robbed Matheus Silveira of all but seven games his freshman season, but he showed flashes of why the coaching staff remains high on his skillset. Injury forced Eli Abaev to redshirt, but he was by no means idle; the Deerfield Beach, Florida native averaged 17.0 points and 15.3 rebounds at the 2019 European Maccabi Games, leading Team USA to gold and tossing up a 23-point, 28-rebound performance against Russia in the title game.
The core group of returners is bolstered by nine newcomers—six freshmen, a junior, a senior and a grad transfer. Reginald Gee from Alabama State is the elder statesman—the All-SWAC performer will play his final year in Clarksville after averaging 13.0 points for the Hornets last season.
Joining Gee in providing toughness and veteran savvy will be Evan Hinson, a South Carolina transfer familiar to Figger from his days in Columbia. Hinson was a two-sport player for the Gamecocks, but will focus his efforts just on the hardwood for the first time after joining the Govs. Sita Conteh, one of four Govs with international ties, will play his final two years in Clarksville; the Sierra Leone native spent the past two seasons at Williston State College in North Dakota.
Six freshman round out the roster to officially kick off preseason camp. International standouts Carlos Paez (Venezuela) and Pavle Djurisic (Montenegro) will get their first taste of Division I action after a year at prep school for each, with Djurisic also coming in with an appearance at the FIBA U20 European Championships in July.
In addition to the new faces in uniform, the Govs welcomed Darryl Dora and Nikita Johnson to Clarksville over the summer as new assistant coaches.
“The season is on us and we’re excited about where we’re at,” Figger said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces and it’s gonna be a lot of fun coaching these guys every day. I’m excited to get the season going.”
The Govs host a pair of exhibitions against Union (October 24th) and Lees-McRae (November 2nd) before beginning the regular season at home against Oakland City (November 5th). The Govs square off against four Power Five opponents—Vanderbilt (November 20th), Arkansas (December 3rd), West Virginia (December 12th) and Georgia (December 30th)—during the nonconference slate and make a repeat visit to the St. Pete Shootout before embarking on the annual dogfight that is the OVC schedule.
Renewal packets for incumbent season ticket holders should begin arriving in mailboxes soon, with renewal deadline October 15th, while new season ticket sales began last week. For more information on joining the Governors in the Dunn Center this winter or to become involved with the Monocle Society, call 931.221.PEAY.