McDevitt pleased with new-look MTSU men's basketball team

MTSU rising junior point guard Donovan Sims had a breakout season for the Blue Raiders, averaging 12 points (15.1 in conference play), 4.2 rebounds while leading the team in assists (88) and steals (45). FILE

Nick McDevitt's challenge this offseason is obviously a much easier one than a year ago when he succeeded Kermit Davis as the MTSU men's basketball coach.

Last year, he faced player defections and an original recruiting class that opted to go elsewhere.

Although the Blue Raiders struggled early in the season, they showed great promise from the middle to the end and were able to qualify for Conference USA tournament.

That's hardly a primary goal, but considering the obstacles MTSU had to overcome, it was a big step in the right direction.

As summer workouts began in early June, MTSU returned just four players with significant playing time, but all were keys to the Blue Raiders' last-season success. Add in four transfers who sat out, along with a recruiting class that brings in an additional six players, and it's easy to see why McDevitt is so optimistic about his roster.

"We do only have four returning, but we also had four sitting out," he said. "We've got to come together as a team with all the new faces, and right now they're just trying to get to know each other. It's a challenge again, but I really like our team.

"We started summer school the first of June and we've got all of our players on campus except one who will be a late walk-on. We've been able to work with them and I'm very pleased. Things are busy, but things are good."

Whether MTSU is a C-USA contender next season remains to be seen, but the Blue Raiders will certainly have more talent.

"I really like what I see," McDevitt said. "We've added mobility, length and athleticism. I like the way we shoot the ball. Donovan Sims, Jayce Johnson, Antonio Green and Reggie Scurry have all made strides.  

"C.J. Jones, who transferred from Arkansas, and Deandre Dishman from Eastern Kentucky, have been very good. We'll have them for two years. Jordan David, a transfer from Dayton, and Jalen Jordan, a transfer from St. Francis are going to be really good players. They'll really make Donovan, Antonio and C.J. get better every day. I'm excited about this year and next year."

MTSU, which won six of its last 10 games last season, has yet to release its 2019-2020 schedule.

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