Augusta, GA - Augusta State University’s men’s basketball team will open up the 2000-2001 season Friday, November 17th, at West Georgia. The Jaguars are coming off of a 17-11 record a year ago and the school’s second consecutive Peach Belt Conference North Division Championship.
Head Coach Gary Tuell returns for his fourth season with the Jaguar basketball program. After an initial 5-22 record, Tuell has posted solid back-to-back records of 19-10 and 17-11 and will be attempting to reach the 20-win plateau for the first time at Augusta State.
The Jaguars will feature their own version of the "Twin Towers" this season with 6-11 center Festus Hawkins and 6-10 forward Russell Hinder. Both Hawkins and Hinder will carry own the ASU tradition of Division I transfers over the past couple of seasons. ASU was led in 1998-99 by PBC Player of the Year and University of New Mexico transfer Kavossy Franklin, and then in 1999-00 by Hawkins, a University of Illinois transfer. Hinder will be playing his first season at ASU after transferring from the University of San Francisco.
Hawkins averaged 14.5 points and 8.0 rebounds during his junior season with the Jaguars, while Hinder posted 3.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore at San Francisco. Hinder enjoyed his best game last year in a win over Nebraska with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Also transferring into the program will be 6-7 forward Marcus Gradney, via McLennan Community College. Gradney originally went to Division I Long Beach State University after a stellar prep career at Ballard High School in Louisville, Kentucky.
Much of the success of the team this year will rely on the effectiveness of point guards Chris Harriman and Jayme Johnson. Harriman only played in eight games last year due to injuries, while Johnson backed up Demetric Hymes-Taylor at the point. Tuell will also depend on sharpshooter Gary Boodnikoff to return to the stardom he showed two years ago when he was named the PBC Freshman of the Year after shooting 47 percent from three-point range.
Augusta State is picked fourth in the preseason Peach Belt poll, as voted on by the league’s head coaches. The Jaguars received one first place vote in the preseason voting. The Jaguars will face a 26-game regular season schedule, highlighted by a challenging preseason tournament in Charlotte, N.C. at the Queens Classic. and a tough 16-game schedule in the PBC.