Southeastern Louisiana’s depth, versatility impress Kiefer in open week of basketball practice

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HAMMOND, La. – With the 2020-21 season drawing near, the Southeastern Louisiana men’s basketball team continued preparation for the upcoming season under second-year head coach David Kiefer this week.

The new-look Lions, featuring seven newcomers with six transfers, practiced Monday-Thursday this week with the point of emphasis being to get the offensive and defensive sets in place.

“We haven’t really had a full week of practice without injury,” said Kiefer. “So the main thing has just been to make sure we are keeping guys healthy and safe while still continuing our preparation the way we want to. But the emphasis has been getting the basic offense and defense put into place that we want to run.”

While SLU has dealt with some setbacks from injuries, Kiefer has seen a lot of positives early on during the pre-season practice.

“I like how we’re coming together as a collective unit,” said Kiefer. “The guys are playing really good team basketball and buying into the concept of sharing the basketball and playing unselfishly. Every single guy on the roster has been giving us 100 percent each day and that’s all I can ask for right now.”

The Lions return seven letter winners from last year including starters Pape Diop (6-9, F, Sr, 215), Brandon Gonzalez (6-6, G, Sr., 205) and Byron Smith (6-1, G, 180, G). SLU will also have the services of Nick Caldwell (6-7, F, So, 215) and Isiah Kirby (6-3, G, So, 195) who both saw significant minutes last year, as well as Max Romanov (6-8, G, So., 200) and McKay Howell (6-7, F, So., 190)

Along with experience, SLU’s depth and versatility could be a vital key to success.

“We have 16 guys on this roster and right now there are at least 10 guys I feel comfortable with putting on the floor at any time,” said Kiefer. “And who knows? That number could get bigger. I think that’s going to be a huge advantage for us with having to play so many games in a short period of time (due to season being PPD two weeks).”

SLU’s transfers include Keon Clergeot (6-1, G, Sr., 190, UMass), Elijah Ifejeh (6-8, F, Sr., 240, ULM), Gus Okafor (6-6, F, 230, Jr., Miami Dade College), JonDarius Warren (6-0, G, 180, Sr., Northeast Junior College) and Joe Kasperzyk (6-3, G, Jr. 190, Odessa College).

Kiefer also brought back a familiar face. Junior Matthew Strange (5-11, G, 170, New Mexico Junior College) played with the Lions under former head coach Jay Ladner in the 2018-19 season.

Avery Wilson (6-4, G, Jr., 225) a transfer from Boston College, and Max Brackmann (7-2, C, Fr., 270), from Loehne, Germany, are also two guys that could see significant time for the Lions.

The lone true freshman SLU signed is Seattle, Washington native Jamon Kemp (6-6, G, 195). The Woodstock Academy Grad is the son of former NBA superstar for the Seattle Sonics, Shawn Kemp.

“So far, all the new guys have been as good as I can ask for,” said Kiefer. “They’re coachable and can help lead and they listen. Some of these guys, like Keon, who was coached by Tubby Smith (former Kentucky head coach), he’s come in and taught the guys a lot with the experiences he’s had on the floor. Overall, I couldn’t be more encouraged by what I’ve seen thus far from this team.”

The Lions will continue preseason practice Monday afternoon. The NCAA basketball season begins Wednesday, Nov. 25, however, SLU has not released a game schedule as of Friday.

HARDWOOD CLUB/S CLUB
Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the basketball program are encouraged to join the Hardwood Club. Lion alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letterwinners. All membership fees and donations to Hardwood Club are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern basketball program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at laa@southeastern.edu or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA
For more information on Southeastern Basketball, follow @LionUpMBB and @DavidKieferSLU on Twitter, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.

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