GNTC’s Miller, Todd Lead Bobcats In NJCAA Action

 

“Georgia Northwestern Head Men’s Basketball Coach David Stephenson watches closely as the Bobcats work through a practice drill.”

(The R.A.C., Rossville, Georgia) – When Georgia Northwestern hits the hardwood at The R.A.C. (Rossville Athletic Complex) next Friday night, the Bobcats will be entering the season-opener against Toccoa Falls College (GA) with high expectations.

Now in its sixth season of intercollegiate basketball, Cats Country boasts its deepest roster and most difficult schedule since the program’s birth. “We play ten different four-year colleges outside of our NJCAA region play this year,” said Men’s Head Basketball Coach David Stephenson. “However, we’ve played some of them before and been way too close to upsets of those large programs. The squad this year could help us put some of those safely into the win column.”

The Bobcats have been picked to finish third in NJCAA Region XVII. Named to the Pre-Season All-Region First Team roster from Georgia Northwestern is sophomore forward Alex Miller. Sophomore center Bud Todd received second team honors.

Miller, a 6-foot-5 power forward from Gordon Central H.S. (GA), returns to the Georgia Northwestern front court after having a standout freshman campaign. Miller averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per outing in his first collegiate season putting him among the NJCAA Region XVII leaders. “Returning an All-Region player with his size and skill is huge for us,” said Stephenson.

Joining Miller in the front line is Todd, a team co-captain. Todd, a 6-foot-5 center from Trion H.S. (GA), averaged nine points, five boards, and two blocks a game this past season.  “We have the ability to be extremely physical down low this year,” said Todd. “As for Alex, he really knows how to move and has amazing footwork for a big man. He has that quiet swag about him as if to say, ‘I’m not going to talk about it, I’m just going to beat you.’ ”

Although Miller is not someone who is very verbal on the court, Todd brings a leadership that the top cat can’t talk about enough. “Bud (Todd) teaches well on the court,” said Stephenson. “He is really taking well to this co-captain role. And, Bud wants badly to be a basketball coach in the near future. His desire is something we are truly benefitting from this season.”

The other Bobcat co-captain, Fernando Lemus, Jr., will return to the active roster after the Christmas break. Lemus is at the tail end of his rehabilitation from off-season knee surgery. Lemus, among the all-time leading scorers from Model High School in Rome, Georgia, was out for the season early last year after suffering  a knee injury at Crown College in Powell, Tennessee last fall. “Fernando didn’t accumulate enough court time last season before the injury to count towards his eligibility and has been permitted to still have two years of play with us starting this year as a result,” said Stephenson.

If his rehab goes as scheduled, Lemus is expected to return to the line-up at the top of January when the Bobcats open NJCAA Region XVII play against Southern Crescent Tech in Rome, Georgia on January 5.

Lemus, Jr is expected to handle the shooting guard responsibilities for the Cats upon his return if all goes well. However, the fight for the starting point guard spot is extremely tight. Freshmen Quinton Cotton of Model H.S. (GA), Tavish Reynolds of Sonoraville H.S. (GA), and Richard Olsen who played prep ball in Arizona last year are up for the job.

“Two of those three could play a two spot, too, though,” said Stephenson. “Every player has a different strength. It looks like we’ll have several who are qualified to handle the responsibility this year.” Last year’s Bobcat All-American Matt Woods finished his career with Georgia Northwestern, leaving the Cats with a dire need for a point guard. Woods is now serving as an assistant coach for GNTC while completing his degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

For those who don’t get the starting point guard spot, they’ll be expected to take up the slack at the shooting guard along with returning sophomore Treas Jackson from Heritage H.S. (GA), freshman Trea Covington from LaFayette H.S. (GA), and freshman Hunter Ivester from Trion H.S. (GA).

The 6-foot-2 Covington and 6-foot-3 Tre’ Vaughn Bostic from Sonoraville H.S. (GA) may be looked at as someone who’ll play more from a three-spot. “Trea and Tre’ Vaughn are extremely athletic and can play very physical,” said Stephenson. “We’ll just have to see how everyone progresses. They hustle well and bring speed and strength to a key spot on the roster.”

Another target area on this year’s line-up for Stephenson is the front court  as he has more depth at those positions than ever before. “We have good size and veterans who can help them come along quickly,” said Stephenson. “Alex (Miller) and Bud (Todd) are working incredibly hard with Cody Cochran (6-foot-6) and Andrew Johnson (6-foot-5) from Gordon Lee H.S. (GA) and Jordan Robinson (6-foot-6) from Mountain View Christian (AL).

“Cody is a guy that has really good offensive skills for a big man,” said Stephenson.  “He could end up being a good threat in the post. Andrew is very fast for his size and brings a ton of hustle. Jordan brings a ton of heart and a decent shot to the low post. All three will be players who will see as the season goes on that they have the potential to bring a whole lot to the table. They still need a lot of trials-by-fire to help get them on the right track, mentally and physically.”

On the campuses of Georgia Northwestern, these new Bobcats spend most of their time together in and out of the classroom. Todd says that is something previous squads have missed out on. “We have been working together, studying together, and just really getting to know each other and gel,” said Todd. “As a result, the chemistry within the team on and off the court, has been better than what I’ve seen in the past.”

Now entering his 26th season as a basketball head coach, Stephenson ranks the squad among the best he’s ever coached. “We are going to be competitive. More than just a tough out. A truly tough group to pin down within a forty minute ball game,” said Stephenson. “But most importantly, I have a good group of young men from top to bottom. That makes my job one I love to do each and every day.”

For more information on Bobcat Athletics at Georgia Northwestern Technical College, contact the Office of Sports Information at 706.764.3813 or e-mail to dfoley@gntc.edu.

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