Friday, October 21, 2016

Cleveland State basketball: Gavin Peppers is emerging as the frontrunner to be the Vikings' starting point guard

Gavin Peppers
Although Gary Waters has not yet had an actual starting lineup in practice, a leader has emerged in Cleveland State’s ongoing point guard competition.

Junior college transfer Gavin Peppers has the inside track, with junior Kenny Carpenter and freshmen Kash Thomas also in the mix.

"Right now, Gavin Peppers would be the frontrunner," Waters said at Tuesday's media gathering. "I'm going to split that time up. If we could go 25 and 15 (minutes) that would be good."

Peppers, a transfer from Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, has impressed the coaches in practice with his ability to score the basketball - something the Vikings are desperate in need of after finishing 346th in scoring (out of 351 division I programs) last year, averaging just 60.8 points a game.

"He's a look to score first point guard," Waters said about Peppers, who averaged 18.7 points, 3.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game last year for LCCC. "He can score (the basketball) as well as anyone out there."

A Brookeville, Md. native, Peppers had 10, 20-point games last year for LCCC, including two 30-point performances. He's a 37-percent shooter from three-point distance.

Carpenter, who started eight games last year and averaged 6.8 points, has showcased a much improved shot during the first two weeks of practice. His offseason regimen included making 30,000 shots a day.

"Kenny has really stepped up to be a scorer," said Waters. "We had our first (intrasquad) scrimmage and he took 27 shots."

While Peppers and Carpenter look to score first, Thomas is more of a traditional pass first point guard.

Thomas, a Chateauguay, Quebec native, led the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association in assist-to-turnover ratio last year. He averaged 18.4 points and 4.9 assists as a senior.

"The kid I've been really excited about is Kash Thomas," said Waters. "He has done a really good job of running the show. He has instincts that you look for in point guards. He's such a great kid, too."

Green and white scrimmage: CSU basketball fans can get their first look at the 2016-17 Vikings squads on Saturday, with a free public scrimmage at 11 a.m in the Wolstein Center.

Yates update: Former Viking point guard Andre Yates, who briefly attempted to start a pro career overseas, has transferred to Benedictine College, an NAIA school in Kansas.

"Andre made a decision that he wanted to move on," said Waters.

Date change: CSU's men's basketball exhibition game against Tiffin has been moved to Monday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m.. The contest was originally scheduled to be played Nov. 8.

Tickets now on sale: Single-game tickets for CSU's men's basketball home games are now on sale.

Tickets for games at the Wolstein Center are $10 for the end zone, $15 for seats between the baseline or $20 for center court.

For the two games at the Q, it is $22 for center court, $17 between the baseline and end zone seats are $12.

Tickets can be ordered online at,  in-person at the Wolstein Center or Quicken Loans Arena Box Offices or by calling 216-420-2970 or 888-894-9424.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Three questions as Cleveland State basketball team opens practice

Monday marks the unofficial kickoff to college basketball season at Cleveland State.

The men’s basketball team held its first of 27 allotted official preseason practices this afternoon.

"We got a lot of new faces," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said Saturday after CSU's annual alumni game. "The guys that are coming back are excited about moving forward this year and I really feel that we are going to have a pretty good year."

Coming off a 9-23 season, the Vikings have plenty of questions that need to be answered before its Nov. 12 opener against Kent State. Here’s a look at some of the questions the Vikings may be looking at:

1. WHO WILL Score?

A year ago, only five other DI programs scored less points then the Vikings who averaged just 60.8 points a game during the 2015-16 season.

Sophomore guard Rob Edwards (12.4 points a game) and senior forward Demonte Flannigan (11.4) should carry most of the scoring load, but the question remains who will help them out.

"I think we can add another 20 points because we brought in players that can put the ball in the basket," said Waters.

Waters believes Bobby Word, an Oral Roberts transfer who sat out last year, can be the third go to guy. Word impressed in practice last year and could give the Vikings a much needed perimeter threat. The Lancaster, Tx. native averaged 8.4 points for the Golden Eagles as a sophomore and scored double-digits 14 times. He's a 38.4 percent shooter from downtown.

"We have two junior college players that are pretty good players," said Waters. "Jamarcus (Hairston), he was a 16 point scorer and Gavin Peppers averaged 18 points per game."

Peppers is a natural scorer who is expected to compete for the starting point guard spot. The Brookeville, Md. native had 10, 20-point games last year for Laramie (Wy.) County Community College, including two 30-point performances. He's a 37-percent shooter from three-point distance.

Hairston, a versatile forward, can play both the four or five. The Danville, Va. native can also play inside or on the perimeter. He posted 27 double-digit scoring games and 15 double-digit rebounding game last year at Louisburg Junior College in North Carolina.


The Vikings return four starters from last season, but starting point guard Andre Yates decided to give up his final year of eligibility in order to start a pro career overseas. That leaves the Vikings with an open competition for the starting lead guard spot.

"We have about three guys that have the potential to play that position - Gavin Peppers, Kash Thomas and Kenny Carpenter," said Waters.

Carpenter, who started eight games last year, could be the favorite entering the preseason. Waters tends to open practice with two teams - the veterans vs. the newcomers. With Carpenter being the only veteran at the position, he'd likely open practice with the other starters.

Waters is also high on Thomas, a freshmen from Montreal, Canada. He's more a traditional pass first point.

"Kash Thomas will get a chance to play as a freshmen at one of the point guards," said Waters.

3. Can CSU play faster?

The Vikings played at the nation’s 36th-slowest tempo last year, a grind-it-out style that limited offensive possessions. With more length, athleticism and depth this season, CSU is hoping to pick up the pace a bit.

"What I want to do is increase the pace a little bit and get our guys out and going because we're going to have a lot of numbers," said Waters. "I don't want guys to play 40 minutes, I need guys who can play 24 minutes."

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cleveland State men’s basketball to play at Kentucky on Nov. 23

The Cleveland State men’s basketball team will play Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Nov. 23, according to the Wildcats’ nonconference schedule released Monday.

The game is part of a tournament called the Bluegrass Showcase. The other teams in the tournament include Canisius, Duquesne, and Tennessee-Martin.

Each team will play four games. The Vikings are expected to play three games on the road and host one at the Wolstein Center.

Canisius will visit the Wolstein Center on Nov. 15.  The Vikings will also play road games at UT-Martin on Nov. 18 and a trip to Pittsburgh to face Duquesne on Nov. 27.

CSU's full non-conference schedule has not yet been released.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cleveland State basketball team back on campus for summer school

Andre Yates will not be returning.
Summer school classes begin this week for 10 Cleveland State men's basketball returning players and six newcomers, CSU spokesperson Greg Murphy confirmed.

Murphy also confirmed that Andre Yates, Aaron Scales, Jeron Rogers, and Jono Janssen are no longer with the program.

Yates has decided to forego his final season of eligibility and pursue professional opportunities.

Scales, Rogers and Janssen transferred to other schools.

Yates is the most prominent of the departees.

The Dayton native started 29 of 30 games last season for the Vikings, leading the team in assists (2.1) to go along with 9.1 points a game.

Yates' departure leaves CSU with not much DI experience at the lead guard position. Only Kenny Carpenter has started a game at the DI level.

Carpenter, a junior from Detroit, started eight games for the Vikings last season. He averaged 6.8 points and 1.5 assists a game.

The Viking also brought in a couple of recruits to compete with Carpenter - including junior college transfer Gavin Peppers and freshmen Kasheem "Kash" Thomas.

Scales graduated from CSU in May and is taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows graduates to transfer to be immediately eligible. The High Point, North Carolina native is transferring closer to home and will spend his final season of eligibility at North Carolina A&T.

The 6-foot-9 center played sparingly with the Vikings in his three-year career, averaging 1.4 points and 1.5 rebounds in 72 games.

Janssen is transferring to Division II Hawaii Pacific. The redshirt freshmen forward from Mountain Creek, Australia, appeared in 11 games with the Vikings, totaling nine points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes.

Rogers, a Detroit native and son of former NBA player Carlos Rogers, is transferring to Oakland (Mich.) Community College. The freshmen forward appeared in 25 games with the Vikings last season, averaging 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds.

Demonte Flannigan is CSU's lone returning senior on the roster. Cal State Bakersfield transfer Ravonn "PJ" Posey, is also a senior, but he will have to sitout the 2016-17 season because of NCAA transfer guidelines. He is the only player not on campus.

The Vikings have eight juniors on the roster: Derek Sloan, Bobby Word, Carpenter, Terrell Hales, walk-on Tim Hasbargen are the returnees. Sloan and Word are redshirt juniors. Junior college transfers Jamarcus Hairston, Anthony Wright and Peppers are now on campus.

Rob Edwards, Jibri Blount, and walk-ons Daniel Levitt and Nelson Maxwell are now sophomores, while Evan Clayborne, Thomas and preferred walk-on Andy Lucien round out the roster as the freshmen.

The Vikings will also begin its summer workouts.

Under NCAA guidelines, teams can hold summer workouts for eight hours per week — two with coaches, six without for weight training and conditioning.

Teams can officially begin practice 42 days before the first regular season game, meaning the Vikings can hold its first practice on Sunday, Oct. 2.

CSU's season opener is Nov. 12 against Kent State in Youngstown as part of the second annual Northeast Ohio Coaches vs. Cancer doubleheader.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cleveland State basketball targeting Iona transfer Jahaad Procter

Jahaad Procter
Cleveland State is one of several schools that Iona transfer Jahaad Procter is considering, according to a tweet from CBS Sport’s Jon Rothstein.
Procter averaged 5.1 points per game for the Gaels last season as a freshmen. He had seven double-digit scoring games, including a season-high 20 points in a win over Fairfield and 18 points in a loss to Akron.

The 6-foot-3 guard from Harrisburg, Pa., is also reportedly considering Valparaiso, High Point, Wright State, UNC Greensboro, Drexel, Towson, and Louisianna Tech.

Procter will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 season.

As a prep, Procter was a three-time all-state selection playing for Kirk Smallwood at Harrisburg High School.

The all-time leading scorer at Harrisburg High, Procter averaged 24.4 points per game as a senior, leading the Cougars to a Mid-Penn Commonwealth-championship and an appearance in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals.

CSU is also reportedly in the running to land Ohio State transfer AJ Harris.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Report: Former Cleveland State forward Jonothan Janssen will transfer to Hawaii Pacific

Jono Janssen
The first of Cleveland State's three transfers has found a new home.

Jonothan Janssen is headed to Division II Hawaii Pacific, according to recruiting website Verbal

The 6-foot-9 forward from Mountain Creek, Queensland, Australia, appeared in 11 games with CSU this past season as a redshirt freshmen, scoring a total of nine points.

Janssen is immediately eligible and will have three years of eligibility left to play with the Sharks, who finished 19-9 last season.

Guard Myles Hamilton and center Aaron Scales have also received scholarship releases from CSU, but have not yet signed with new schools.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Cleveland State Basketball Signs Hairston, Thomas & Wright To NLI's

Cleveland State officially announced the signings of Jamarcus Hairston (Danville, Va.), Kasheem Thomas (Chateauguay, Quebec, Canada) and Anthony Wright (Harrisburg, Pa.) to National Letters of Intent on Friday.

CSU released the following press release:

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cleveland State head men's basketball coach Gary Waters has announced the signings of Jamarcus Hairston (Danville, Va.), Kasheem Thomas (Chateauguay, Quebec, Canada) and Anthony Wright (Harrisburg, Pa.) to National Letters of Intent to join the Vikings in 2016-17.
Thomas will have four years of eligibility at CSU, while Hairston and Wright will have two seasons of eligibility.

The trio will join Evan Clayborne (Dayton, Ohio) and Andy Lucien (North Olmsted, Ohio) who joined the Vikings during the early signing period and Gavin Peppers (Brookeville, Md.) who signed with CSU at the start of the late period in April.

Hairston, a 6-foot-8 forward, was named a third team NJCAA Division II All-American at Louisburg JC this past season after averaging 14.1 points and 9.0 rebounds, while shooting 37-percent from three-point. He posted 27 double-digit scoring games and 15 double-digit rebounding games, including a 19-rebound performance in the NJCAA National Tournament. He led Louisburg to a 28-7 record and sixth place finish at the NJCAA Championship this year.

"Jamarcus is a great addition for us," Waters said. "He has the ability to play the four and the five and his length and athleticism will help him at both positions. He can step out and shoot the basketball and also play down on the block. We expect Jamarcus to be an instant contributor for us this upcoming season." 

The 6-foot Thomas earned Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association All-Canadian second team honors in each of last two seasons. This past season, he ranked second in the conference in scoring (18.4) and assists (4.9) and third in free throw percentage (.827), shooting 44-percent from three-point. He averaged 13.5 points, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game as a junior.

"We are excited to bring a player of Kasheem's magnitude into the program," Waters said. "He will provide an immediate lift at the point guard position. He brings quickness, good shooting and ball handling and the ability to penetrate as a point guard. We expect to see big things from Kasheem despite him being just a freshman."

Wright, a 6-foot-6 wing/forward, earned 2016 NJCAA Division I honorable mention All-America honors last year after averaging 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game, ranking fourth in the nation. He led Harcum JC to a 28-5 record, a Region XV and District 3 championship and a berth in the NJCAA National Tournament as the squad was ranked 14th in the final NJCAA Division I poll.

Wright, who shot 55-percent from the field and 75-percent at the free throw line, finished his as Harcum's all-time leader with 177 career steals, while also ranking eighth in assists (213) and ninth in points (768) and rebounds (335). Wright set a single game school record with 10 steals in a game and made a school-record 107 steals as a sophomore.

"Anthony is a great addition to what we want to do offensively and defensively," Waters said. "His length gives him the ability to defend and make steals, giving us an instant threat on the defensive end. But he also gives us just as much on the offensive end with his ability to score both inside and outside. He has tremendous speed and athleticism and is a great finisher in transition."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cleveland State reportedly in running for Ohio State transfer A.J. Harris

A.J. Harris
Former Ohio State point guard A.J. Harris, is reportedly considering Cleveland State as one of his transfer destinations.

According to CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein, Harris is looking at Duquesne, UMass, and Cleveland State. as possible destinations, but hasn't set any visits.

A 5-foot-9, 175-pounder from Dayton, Harris averaged 2.8 points and 1.7 assists while playing in 13.7 minutes a game for the Buckeyes this season as a true freshmen.

He will have three years remaining after sitting out 2016-17 season.

Harris was highly-rated coming out of Dunbar High School in Dayton.

A four-star prospect, Harris was rated the No. 12 point guard, No. 86 prospect in the country and No. 4 player in Ohio according to 247Sports composite ratings.

As a senior, Harris averaged 19.3 points, 5.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals a game for Dunbar High.

Harris was a high school teammate of current CSU guard Andre Yates - both were on Dunbar's 2012 state championship team, when Yates was a senior and Harris was a freshmen.

Dunbar High has been a recruiting pipeline for the Vikings in recent years, producing CSU great Norris Cole, Aaron Pogue and Yates. CSU signee Evan Clayborne also spent two years at Dunbar before transferring to Dayton Thurgood Marshall High School for his senior year.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Cleveland State basketball receives two verbal commitments

Anthony Wright
Jamarcus Hairston
Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters completed his 2016 recruiting wishlist, picking up the final two pieces on Monday.

In the morning, the Vikings secured a commitment from Louisburg (Junior) College’s Jamarcus Hairston, a third team NJCAA Division II All-American.

Hours later, the Vikings got more good news when they received a commitment from Anthony Wright of Harcum (Junior) College in Philly.

Both visited CSU's campus over the weekend and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Hairston, a 6-foot-7 stretch four from Danville, Va., averaged 14.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game for the Hurricanes, shooting 46 percent overall and 37 percent from 3-point range.

According to recruiting website,, Hairston chose the Vikings over offers from Norfolk State, Alcorn State, Hampton and Youngstown State.

Wright is a 6-6 swingman originally from Harrisburg, Pa..

An NJCAA Division I honorable mention All-American, Wright averaged 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 3.3 steals per game for the Bears, shooting 54 percent overall and 38 percent from long range.

He is Harcum's all-time steals leader.

Wright chose the Vikings over offers from Alcorn State, Delaware State, and Wagner. He also drew interest from Oregon State.

Hairston and Wright joins Dayton Thurgood Marshall forward Evan Clayborne, North Olmsted forward Andy Lucien, Laramie County Community College point guard Gavin Peppers and Canadian point guard Kash Thomas as members of CSU's 2016-'17 recruiting class.

CSU currently has 14 players on scholarship — the NCAA limit is 13 — meaning some roster movement is expected.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cleveland State basketball adds second point guard

Kash Thomas

Heading into the offseason, Gary Waters' top priority was to improve the play at the point guard position and add some more shooters.

Cleveland State finished last in the Horizon League in assists, averaging 10.2 dimes a game.

In the last two days, the Vikings have added two new point guards into the mix.

On Friday, CSU signed junior college point guard Gavin Peppers.

On Saturday, Canadian Kasheem "Kash" Thomas announced his commitment to attend CSU in the fall.

"I am excited and bless to announce that I have officially committed to Cleveland State Basketball to continue my academics and basketball career!" Thomas tweeted on Saturday.

Thomas, 5-foot-11, visited CSU's campus on Thursday. He will have four seasons of eligibility.

The Chateauguay, Quebec, Canada native earned Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association All-Canadian second team honors in each of last two seasons.

As a senior, Thomas finished second in the conference in scoring and assists. He averaged 18.4 points and 4.9 assists a game for Champlain College Saint-Lambert in Quebec.

Thomas is a 44 percent shooter from three-point distance and 82 percent from the free throw line.

He played his AAU ball with Brookwood Elite, the same program that groomed CSU walk-on Daniel Levitt.

Peppers, 6-foot-2, gives CSU an experienced scorer.

The Brookeville, Md. native had 10 20-point games as a sophomore, including two games in which he scored over 30 points. His season-high was a 39 point-effort in a victory over Northeastern (Wy.) Junior College.

He's a 36.6 percent shooter from three-point distance and 82.6 percent from the charity stripe.

Overall, Peppers averaged 18.7 points, 3.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds last season for Laramie County Community College in Wyoming.

He was a first team all-region selection.

Peppers will have two years of eligibility remaining.

CSU is still looking to add a wing/forward and a big for next season.