Wise, Va. - Head Coach Lee Clark will enter his 17th season at the helm of the men's basketball program at UVa-Wise just two wins shy of 200 for his career. The veteran coach and his team will kick off the 2012-2013 season on Friday when the Cavaliers play host to the Cobras of Virginia Intermont College in game two of the 2012 Cavalier Classic. The opening game of the event will pit West Virginia Tech and Bethel University at 5:30 p.m. with the second game starting at 7:30 p.m.
UVa-Wise enters its final season of NAIA and Mid-South play with one of the more difficult schedules in school history. The Cavs will play ten games against schools either ranked or receiving votes in the Preseason NAIA Coaches Poll; in addition, UVa-Wise is scheduled to play four NCAA Division II opponents and NCAA Division I school Gardner Webb in an exhibition contest.
The Cavs will have to replace the bulk of the team's scoring and rebounding from a season ago. A pair of 1,000 point scorers in Travis Berry and Josh Jordan along with Norris Gaskins finished their careers as seniors in 2011-2012. Berry averaged 20.4 points per game as a senior while connecting on a team-best 60 three point field goals. Jordan averaged 15.6 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per contest in his final season. Jordan recorded the first triple-double in the history of the David J. Prior Center on November 28 when he finished with 25 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots against Virginia University-Lynchburg. Gaskins rounded out his career by averaging ten points and 6.8 rebounds per game; he also led the team in field goal percentage at 53.4 percent.
Despite the losses of Berry, Jordan, and Gaskins, Darius Smith returns for his third year as the team's starting point guard. The junior was named freshman of the year by the Mid-South Conference two seasons ago before averaging 10.7 points and 3.8 assists per game as a sophomore. The Woodbridge, Virginia native has accumulated 528 points and 240 assists in his first two collegiate seasons. Joining Smith as a returning starter, Jermaine Wright enters his senior season as one of the top defenders in the conference. Possessing the ability to guard any position, Wright frequently guarded the opponent's top-scorer as a junior. Offensively, Wright averaged 8.4 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per contest. The squad's top reserve player from a year ago, James Turner returns for his junior campaign. Turner appeared in 25 games as a sophomore and averaged 20.8 minutes a game. The forward shot 44.7 percent from field in his "sixth man" role.
Coach Clark and his staff have replenished the talent with a solid group of newcomers. National Junior College All-American Deon Boyce leads the pack of incoming talent. The forward transferred to UVa-Wise during the off-season after averaging a double-double at Davidson County Community College. Joining Boyce in the front court is freshman Matt Day enlisted at the college this fall after becoming Buckhorn High School's all-time leader in points and rebounds en route to being named a finalist for the prestigious Mr. Kentucky Basketball award.
At the guard position, sophomore Javon Moore will enter his first season at UVa-Wise after spending last season at San Jacinto Junior College. Previously, Moore averaged 15 points per game at National Christian Academy. The team also added former Benedictine Prep star Charles George enters his freshman season as a Cav after leading his high school to the VISAA Championship as a senior. George averaged 10.2 points per game while posting 5.4 assists per game and 3.6 steals per game as a senior.
Fans unable to make it to the game will be able to follow the Cavs online at www.uvawisecavs.com With the exception of the Gardner Webb game, each game in the 2012-2013 season can be heard free online. Locally, fans can listen to the game on 93.5 WAXM on Saturday afternoons.