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My First Visit with the 2021-22 Hoops Team – LET’S GO!

July 28, 2021

So for a variety of reasons I had a couple of days open this week and thought it might be a great time to get an early peek at the 2021-22 version of the CSU Men’s Basketball squad.

You know who I’m talking about. The squad that went 14-4 in the MWC and was one of the Last Four out of the 2021 NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament. The squad that won two NIT games before losing to Memphis in the semi-finals. The squad made of of entirely underclass men and return everyone other than backup guard PJ Byrd who transferred to Southern University.

I sent a message to Aaron Katsuma, CSU’s Director of Basketball Operations, and we decided on Wednesday morning at 9:45AM at Moby. The next to the last of the summer workouts before the team goes on break prior to the start of school and the official Fall season.

I was there to have a look at the returning players, the new players, the new coaches and to start to get to know the newcomers. First to say hello were the usual suspects. Katsuma, Head Coach Niko Medved, returning stars Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy.

I’m not going to go into any practice details. It was mostly a variety of drills and conditioned games that featured anything from 1-on-1 stuff all the way through 4-on-4 stuff (Tomorrow will be the final day and that will feature a lot of 5-on-5).

Kendle Moore popped over to say hello during a free throw shooting segment. New Assistant Coach Brian Cooley (who I met earlier this summer on the golf course) wandered by to say hello and share some of his early thoughts. Which included being impressed with Moore’s competitiveness and John Tonje’s defense.

Trainer Joe Phillips stopped over and we talked about a whole variety of subjects. Great trainer who just absolutely loves working with this particular team. He feels like he won the lottery!

Spotlight went first on Dischon Thomas who drained a pair of free throws. Spotlight went on Stevens who drained a pair of free throws as well. Want to know how a team finishes 7th in the nation at 79.2%? Simple. By taking them very seriously.

Adam Thistlewood wandered over to say hello. We had a chance to chat a bunch since Adam was currently sitting out with a wrist injury. I congratulated him on his national student-athlete award from the NABC and our conversation switched to the Olympics. Adam is currently dating CSU T&F star Lauren Gale who is representing Canada in the 4×400 relay in Tokyo.

Adam was doing a lot of running to stay in shape and of course I had to tell him that he should be taking the time to develop his left hand. I told him I expected him to somehow deliver a tomahawk lefty dunk. Amazingly, I peeked at him shooting off to the side left-handed. He swished an elbow jumper and immediately followed it up by swishing a three-pointer from the corner.

James Moors was not practicing due to a foot injury but he was going hard on the exercise bike off to the side. Injuries are never any good but this one is a bit of a blessing because it allows second-year big Jacob Jennissen to get a lot more reps. A healthy Moors, a bigger and stronger Dischon Thomas, and a more developed Jennissen and you have the making of a pretty solid tandem of bigs.

Of course my eyes were drawn to the newcomers – transfers Chandler Jacobs and Baylor Hebb, and freshmen Jalen Lake and Jalen Scott. I’m always curious to see how they fit in.

Jacobs showed the ability to score from everywhere on the court. Post-ups, mid-range, beyond the arc and dunking. And even with all of that offense, its pretty much the consensus of the staff that he’ll help the team even more on the defensive end with his physical presence. He’s a big strong guard.

I’m not going to put any pressure on the two Jalens but they will both be very important players by the time they finish their CSU careers. Lake is a scorer, Scott a playmaker with great vision. Hebb is a gym rat who transferred from Loyola (IL). They’ll all need to develop physically. I’m not going to guess how much they’ll play in their first season in Fort Collins. That will be entirely up to them as this coaching staff has shown that they are willing to play younger players if they are deemed ready.

After practice, I had a chance to introduce myself to Baylor Hebb, Chandler Jacobs, and new assistant Sam Jones. Jacobs told me he loves everything about CSU – his teammates, his coaches, the school, Fort Collins. After committing to Texas Tech and then switching to CSU, he knows that CSU is where he belongs.

I talked a bunch with Sam Jones about a ton of stuff. Mostly about his playing and coaching background and some about his family. After playing D-2 ball he played several years in Europe including Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain. He then became a head coach on both a professional team snd the Dutch National team before returning to the States as a Player Development coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He and his wife love Fort Collins.

Oh. And one more thing. Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy are still the Alphas. There’s no joking around when they’re engaged at practice. They both go about their business at full speed. They’re not just back. They’re better!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    July 31, 2021 7:18 pm

    Great stuff. Thanks swoll.

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