March 05, 20161st2ndFinal
Stats at a GlanceMERETSU
FG Percentage.377 (20-53) .434 (23-53)
3P FG Percentage.353 (6-17) .440 (11-25)
FT Percentage.679 (19-28) .889 (24-27)
Offensive Rebounds117
Defensive Rebounds2324
Total Rebounds3431
Bench Points1724
PointsPhillip Leonard - 22
ReboundsPhillip Leonard - 7
AssistsPhillip Leonard - 5
StealsStephon Jelks - 1
Ethan Stair - 1
Jaylen Stowe - 1
Jordan Strawberry - 1
Lawrence Brown - 1
Andrew Fishler - 1
BlocksLawrence Brown - 2
SoCon Tourney: ETSU men set for Saturday opener at 6 p.m.
The ETSU men's basketball team will enter the SoCon Tournament as the No. 2 seed on Saturday.
SoCon Tourney: ETSU men set for Saturday opener at 6 p.m.
Friday, March 4, 2016

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 4, 2016) – When first year head coach Steve Forbes and the ETSU men’s basketball team arrive in Asheville, N.C., Friday to continue preparations for the Southern Conference Tournament this weekend, the goal will be rather simple – keep this memorable 2015-16 season going and earn a berth into the NCAA Tournament.

The Buccaneers will open play in the event in the quarterfinals Saturday at 6 p.m., taking No. 7 seed Mercer, who defeated No. 10 seed The Citadel on Friday night. ETSU enters the event as the No. 2 seed by virtue of its 14-4 conference record, along with a 21-10 overall mark.

ETSU should have some momentum this week, having won five straight games and holding a 7-1 record in the month of February. If finishing strong is a key to postseason success, the Bucs have met that goal.

For more on Saturday’s game, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link to the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2015-16 season, visit and click on the men’s hoops link.


Game Notes

We are “ETSU”

The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics would like to ask both the print and broadcast media to honor our request to be called “ETSU” ... East Tennessee State University in first reference is acceptable, but subsequent references should be ETSU ... On TV graphics please use ETSU ... Our nickname is the Buccaneers, but Bucs is also acceptable.


Bucs ready to head back to Asheville

During the Bucs previous tenure in the Southern Conference from 1979 to 2005, the ETSU men’s basketball team made many memories playing in the SoCon Tournament ... Six times the Bucs won the championship, which included four straight titles from 1989-92 and back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004 ... While the Bucs are 30-19 all-time in the SoCon Tournament, their time in Asheville’s U.S. Cellular Center was particularly enjoyable -- including a string of 14 straight wins from 1989 to 1993 ... In fact, the Bucs played in the SoCon title game five straight years -- winning four of those championship appearances.


Bucs hoping to add another NCAA trip

Having already made nine trips to the NCAA Tournament in its history, the ETSU men’s basketball team would like to add another conference tournament trophy to its treasure chest ... The most memorable stretch in school history was from 1989 to 1992, when the Bucs made four straight trips to the NCAAS, were ranked in the Top 10 nationally (1991), and defeated Arizona in the NCAA first round in 1992 ... The Bucs only other trip prior to that run came in 1968 ... Other trips to the NCAAs came in 2003, along with three most berths in 2004, 2009 and 2010.


Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 27, 2016) – Did the fans of ETSU’s men’s basketball team expect anything else in the final regular season home game of the season? ... In a year highlighted by the Buccaneers winning close games at home, ETSU battled through to a victory once again on Senior Day at Freedom Hall, as the Bucs sent their senior class out in style with a 71-66 win over Southern Conference foe Wofford. On a night when seniors Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.), Lester Wilson (Knoxville), Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) and Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) were honored, it was juniors Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) and A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) that took their share of the headlines. ... Jurkin finished with a career high eight rebounds and four blocks, but also scored eight points that included a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left to put the Bucs up three at 69-66. Then, Merriweather – who returned from a hand injury for the first time since a win over North Carolina Central back on Jan. 4 – battled to rebound a missed 3-point attempt by Wofford’s Eric Garcia and called timeout as he fell to the floor with seconds left in the game, essentially wrapping up the win for the Bucs.


The series vs. Mercer

The Bucs lead the all-time series over Mercer 15-8 ... The majority of the past 23 matchups were played over a nine-year span from 2005-2014, as the two teams were previously members of the Atlantic Sun Conference ... The Bucs have won the last two meeting between the teams, including a 77-74 win in Macon, Ga., back on Feb. 20, 2016.


The series vs. The Citadel

The Buccaneers hold a dominating 38-16 advantage in the all-time series against The Citadel Bulldogs ... In a series that dates back to 1962, the Bucs have won the last two meetings, including a 67-51 win in the most recent matchup on Feb. 18, 2016.


The Steve Forbes era begins

It seems like only yesterday that Steve Forbes was named the 16th head coach in the history of ETSU basketball back on March 30, 2015 ... But 11 months later and the Bucs are well into the Forbes’ era and have enjoyed quite a successful season ... Having most recently served two seasons as an assistant coach at Wichita State where he helped take the Shockers to the Sweet 16 in 2014-15, Forbes has been heralded for his recruiting ties and his extensive background as an assistant coach at the NCAA Division I level – which included a five-year stop at the University of Tennessee ... Complete bio information on Forbes can be found at and general coaching records and other statistics are available on Page 2 and Page 5 of this media notes package.


Guyn, Cromer earn All-SoCon from coaches/media

The Southern Conference announced earlier this week that ETSU senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) and junior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) have earned All SoCon honors from both the league’s coaches and the Southern Conference Sports Media Association. ... Guyn, who currently leads the Buccaneers and is second in the SoCon with 18.1 points per game, was selected to the coaches’ team and the media’s first-team squad. Meanwhile, Cromer, who ranks second on the squad with 15.1 points per game, was also selected to the coaches’ team and was named to the media’s second team.


SoCon first-teamer Ge’Lawn Guyn doing it all for Bucs

Senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn’s game-winning shots at Georgia Tech (11/22) and at home in the Bucs’ win over Mercer (1/21) are just two of the most obvious indictations of the play and leadership he has displayed so far at ETSU ... In all, Guyn has made game-deciding plays in the final seconds of nine of ETSU’s 21 wins this season ... Heading into the SoCon Tournament, Guyn leads the team in scoring (18.1 ppg), blocks (0.9 bpg) and steals (1.1), and is third on the squad in rebounding (3.8 rpg), and assists (1.8 apg).


Three-point streak for Bucs dates back nearly 20 years

Since Feb. 16, 1987 in a game against Davidson, the Bucs have made at least one 3-pointer in 890 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game. ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA.

Bucs make history with win at Georgia Tech

While ETSU has enjoyed its share of wins over “major” opposition in the past, the Bucs’ win over Georgia Tech earlier this season marked the programs first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference school since defeating N.C. State back in 1991 ... It was also the team’s first win over a “Power 5” Conference team since dropping Arkansas back during the 2009-10 season, and the first win over Georgia Tech since the 1978-79 campaign.


Bucs postseason resume ranks among mid-major bests

The ETSU men’s basketball team has enjoyed its share of postseason success and ranks as one of the nation’s most prestigious basketball programs ... The Buccaneers have earned berths to the NCAA Tournament nine times (1969, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010) and NIT twice (1983, 2007) ... The Bucs made their second trip all-time to the CIT Postseason Tournament in 2014, marking the program’s 13th postseason tournament appearance all-time ... In the Bucs first CIT appearance in 2011, ETSU went 2-1 with wins over Furman and Ohio, advancing to the tournament semifinals before losing to Iona in a hard-fought 83-80 contest at the Dome ... In 2014, the Bucs went 1-1, defeating fellow Southern Conference member Chattanooga before falling to Towson in the quarterfinals.


Cromer has met expectations in first year at ETSU

When transfer junior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) joined the Buccaneers, he was touted as a scoring threat and a player that would provide some offensive bunch ... He has lived up to that billing, and is currently second on the team with 15.1 points per game and is leading the team with 3.1 assists per contest ... Earlier this year, Cromer hit the game-winning shot against UNC Greensboro (1/9), scoring 20 points and dishing out a career high six assists ... He then followed up that performance with a game-high 23 points and tied the school record for 3-point field goal percentage in a game with a 6-of-7 effort (.875) from outside the arc in the win over VMI (1/11).


Bradford, Bello becoming “game changers” for Bucs

In the Bucs’ win over Western Carolina (2/15), both sophomore guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) and senior guard Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) showed a great deal of development and potential ... Bello took advantage of his second start this season to set or match career highs for points (20) and rebounds (7), while Bradford posted a career high with 18 points. ... In fact, Bradford scored 15 of 23 points for ETSU during one a decisive stretch during the second half. ... Both players have continued to play well throughout the end of the season.


Bucs “bank”ing on production from junior Isaac Banks

Junior forward Isaac Banks (New Orleans, La.) has definitely stepped up his production this season ... In fact, he recently posted a double-double with 10 points and a career high 18 rebounds in the win over The Citadel (2/18) ... He also had 14 rebounds in the win over Mercer (1/21), a double-double effort of 12 points and 12 rebounds in the win over N.C. Central (1/4), and a 10-point, seven-rebound showing in the win over Western Carolina (1/2) are evidence that Banks’ output may be a trend and not a fluke ... In the Bucs’ win over Samford (1/14), Banks had 11 points and nine rebounds ... For the year, Banks is averaging 6.5 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game.


Dishing out the assists

As the Bucs adjust and learn the new offensive system of first-year head coach Steve Forbes, the “buy-in” is starting to show up on the stat sheets ... In an eight-game stretch from 12/30 to 1/21, the Bucs enjoyed an efficient offensive approach, dishing out a total of 114 assists, for an average of 14.2 assists per game during that time. ... Prior to those eight outings, ETSU had averaged just over 12 assists per game. ... The team dished out a season-high 19 assists against Western, followed by 16 against N.C. Central, and 18 each in wins over UNCG and VMI.


Powering up in the Paint

Rebounding concerns weighed on the Buccaneers earlier this season, but during conference play the Bucs have appeared to make significant strides on the glass ... In particular, ETSU dominated the paint in the 88-51 win over VMI, outrebounding the Keydets 46-26 ... In that game, the Bucs held a 33-21 on the defensive glass and a 13-5 advantage on the offensive boards ... Then, the Bucs out-rebounded The Citadel 58-36 on Feb. 18 ... In the Bucs’ 21 wins this season, the team holds an overall +3.9 rebound advantage, compared to a -7.6 margin in their nine losses.


Forbes and company revamp Bucs’ lineup for 2015-16

The Bucs added a wealth of talent to their roster this year with players like Division I senior transfers Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) from Cincinnati and Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) from Missouri … In addition, junior college transfer T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) joins the Bucs after a successful career as a point producer at Columbia State, and true freshman Shemar Johnson (Columbus, Miss.) brings exceptional height to the wing position at 6-foot-6 … In the frontcourt, Banks is the lone returning player but is joined by 7-foot center Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan), who sat out last season with ETSU after transferring from Indiana … Along with those two, the Bucs have also added help for the inside game this season by signing junior college transfers Nigel Holley (Wilmington, N.C.) and Abednego “Benny” Lufile (Burlington, Ontario, Canada), as well as true freshman post Toriano Stokes (Memphis, Tenn.) … The Bucs have also added Indiana transfer Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and Wichita State transfer Tevin Glass (Greensboro, N.C.) who will miss this season due to NCAA transfer rules.