Men’s Basketball Return Ready for New Season

Harrison Wagner, Staff Writer

Key players from the 2014-2015 LSC Men’s Basketball Conference Championship team have returned for their senior season as hungry as ever for not only a conference championship but a national title.

Three players from last year’s team – point guard Ant Adams, shooting guard JR Owens and power forward Everrett Pleasant reviewed the championship run.

Pleasant, who averaged seven points and four rebounds while playing just 16 minutes a game, looked back at the first Lions team to win a conference championship in a decade.

“It was history,” he said. “Knowing that we can come back up and see the banner, all of that hard work and sweat is embedded in that banner and there isn’t a person that can take that from us.”

Pleasant, 6-6, 220 with a 41-inch vertical jump, plays the game fast and always in attack mode which means his body has to recover daily from the physical play in one of the best defensive conferences in the country.

“I can’t give any slack,” he said. “I know the game is at a faster pace and I always have to have an edge.”

That edge refers to his relentless energy towards the game. Pleasant is known for his crowed-hyping dunks and opposing team silencing blocks.

“I just have to stay on point,” Pleasant said. “I feel like if I don’t bring my energy, then the team won’t get their energy. I have to stay aware and focused at all times whether I’m on the bench or on the floor. Having the most energy on the team forces me to keep my teammates up to speed on their focus and precision.”

One player who knows how important it is to be focused and that size doesn’t matter is starting point guard Ant Adams, who at 5-7, 165, averaged 12 points, four assists and two steals a game last year on 28 minutes a game.

“ Its all part of my game,” Adams said. “I just go out and play the game how I’ve always played it. I’m never going to change anything up.”

Adams is also one of the team’s go-to players as illustrated by his play in the conference championship game against Angelo State University. He had a tough first half but came back in the second half with an 18-point performance.

“It was my favorite moment of the season,” Adams said. “I knew all of that hard work and pain in the gym was for this moment and I couldn’t let my team down. I couldn’t have played that well in the second half without those guys.

“The media time-outs help me out a lot. We get a break every four minutes and I can always look up at the clock and know when a timeout is about to come,” Adams said.

Another player that knows about focusing when the time comes and seizing the opportunity is JR Owens, who started 27 of 32 games and averaged eight points per game last year.

“Its easy to lock in,” Owens said. “I love the game, so whenever coach needs me to do something, its nothing to do it. That’s how I have always played the game.”

Late in the season when the Lions were playing away games before packed houses, the players had to stay focused to block out all the noise and distractions.

“ It sounds easier than it looks,” Owens said. “But aside from the late nights in the gym or the shooting sessions after practice, I would mentally prepare myself for those moments. I would see myself taking shots and block out the defender. It is all about repetition when I shoot. Other than that, I learn to adjust and get it done.”

“It (focusing) was all simple for me,” Owens said. “I wanted to win so bad. I would do anything to make sure that I was focused and ready to perform during the game. I would just lock in and nothing else mattered.”