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 CSUVikings.com,  in-person at the Wolstein Center or Quicken Loans Arena Box Offices or by calling 216-420-2970 or 888-894-9424.

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