As we continue our 2012-13 Season Preview, we want to introduce you to the new players on every Ohio Valley Conference team.
After last year’s disastrous season, Tennessee Martin head coach Jason James made no bones about it: there would be a lot of new faces on this year’s squad. And there are: Almost half of the Skyhawks roster (6 of a total 14) are new to the program this year, as UT Martin hopes for a quick turnaround from last year’s winless conference record.
Here are the New Kids on the Block. (Yep, totally went there.)
Richardson is one of just 3 freshman brought into this year’s program, as the Skyhawks spent much of the offseason looking for players ready to play now. But that’s not to say Richardson couldn’t have an impact on a team whose guards struggled mightily throughout the entire season.
Richardson played at Briarcrest Christian High School program in Memphis, about 2 hours down the road from Martin. Briarcrest is known for having great high school basketball program, evidenced by the Saints reaching the TSSAA championship before losing last season.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Richardson had offers from Belmont and Lipscomb, but chose to play instead in Martin.
At Briarcrest, Richardson was a three-time all-region selection, a member of the Memphis Commercial Appeal Best of the Preps team and was also a 2012 McDonald’s All-American nominee. He was also named an all-west regular season and was named Briarcrest’s best defensive player.
Here is a quick compilation of highlights from Richardson’s senior year:
Another freshman on this year’s roster, Oldham is also a Tennessee standout. Oldham played at Wilson Central High School in Lebanon TN, just about 3 hours away from Martin’s campus.
In three seasons, Oldham became the Wildcats’ all-time leading scorer, pouring in 1,260 points for head coach Troy Bond. Oldham was a big part of the Wildcats’ run to the TSSAA Class AAA state tournament this past season, averaging 17.5 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals per game. Oldham was a three-year all-district and all-region honoree and was named to the 2012 third team all mid-state team.
James says Oldham has “wisdom beyond his years,” adding that Oldham needs a little bit of strength and experience to have a big impact on the Skyhawks
The final freshman on the roster isn’t from the Volunteer state, rather one of the better prep schools in Missouri, Hazelwood Central High School.
As a senior, McLaughlin averaged 11.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and more than one steal and one block per contest. McLaughlin was a 51% shooter, and hit 38% from 3-point range.
Ben Weixlmann from Scout.com named McLaughlin a “Player to Watch” after evaluating the Midwest Showdown Shootout, describing McLaughlin as an “athletic freak” whose “competitive fire and swift ability to attack offensively from 15 feet will make him an attractive option at the next level.”
McLaughlin was also offered a scholarship from SIU Edwardsville, among others.
This junior college transfer has an interesting link to the OVC: His JUCO team, Eastern Oklahoma State College, was coached but former Ohio Valley head coach Scott Edgar. Last season, the Mountaineers completed a remarkable turnaround under Edgar, making their first national tournament appearance since 1961.
Jones came off the bench for that program, but averaged 14.1 points, and 3.8 rebounds per contest last season, earning All-Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference third team accolade.
There’s a Tennessee link in Jones’ past as well. As a prep, he attended Trezevant High School in Memphis, where he averaged 16.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game his senior year, being named a member of Memphis Commercial Appeal “Best of the Preps” Class A-AA team.
Dowdell is also a JUCO transfer, playing just one year at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama. During that year, Dowdell averaged just 4.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in limited action, but did shoot 56% from the field.
His stats as a high schooler are much more impressive. At Wenonah High School in Birmingham, Dowdell averaged 7.2 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, and 2.9 steals per game his senior year. As a junior, Dowell was named regional tournament MVP.
James expected Dowdell to be an immediate addition to the Skyhawks defense, calling the sophomore an “extremely active” basketball player. He also believes Dowell is a versatile defender, capable of defending players in the 2-5 slots. “He runs the floor well and plays hard every possession,” James says. “His motor does not stop. He is an excellent rebounder in and out of his area and his activity level allows him to get a lot of things done on the basketball court.
The final Junior College transfer on the list, Childs was comes from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, located in Perkinston, Mississippi.
As a member of the Bulldogs, Childs was an all-region, all-state and All-MACJC second teamer last season and was voted as the team’s MVP, averaging 7.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
Childs attended high school at Maranatha Christian Academy, averaging 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game his senior year.
James describes Childs as a Jack of all trades, adding that one of the best things about Childs is his positive attitude.