Alumni return to GSU Sports Arena

Photo By Georgia State Athletics "It’s exciting to see these guys and their success that they’re having," Jihad Ali said on this year's basketball team at Alumni Day.
Photo by Georgia State Athletics
“It’s exciting to see these guys and their success that they’re having,” Jihad Ali said on this year’s basketball team at Alumni Day.

Saturday’s Alumni Day at the GSU Sports Arena bridged the past and the present of Georgia State basketball.

Receptions were held for the men’s and women’s basketball team alumni and some alum were honored throughout the doubleheader against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Among the men’s players honored at half time of the men’s game were Steve Richardson, former starting shooting guard and member of the original Georgia State Sun Belt Conference team.

“We have season tickets this year so I come back. My wife and I come to all the games and everything,” Richardson said. “Coach Hunter does a great job; it makes us proud to be a Georgia State Panther.”

Richardson said his team and the current Georgia State Sun Belt team contrast in playing styles.

“They shoot well from the 3-point line,” Richardson said. “When we played, [we] tried to go inside a lot more and didn’t shoot as many jumpers.”

Richardson said the current era of basketball is different from how it was when he played.

“The game is so much quicker now than it was 30-plus years ago,” Richardson said. “It’s a combination – they’re bigger, stronger and I don’t think there’s any comparison of what it used to be.”

The Sun Belt is all what Richardson knew during his time at Georgia State (1976-1978), and he’s happy to see the University come full circle and return to the conference.

Richardson said the conference talks brought back a lot of memories and was very nostalgic to come back in the conference.

“The first year of the Sun Belt we played a team [UNC Charlotte] that went to the Final Four, and Marquette beat them in the semifinals on a last second shot or they would have played for the championship,” Richardson said. “They were easily the best team in the Sun Belt.”

Meanwhile, more recent alumni returned to Georgia State for Alumni Day such as former guard Jihad Ali.

Ali played for former head coach Rod Barnes (2007-2011) and current Head Coach Ron Hunter (2011-12).

In addition to playing under Hunter, Ali has some familiarity with some of the players on the team now.

“Rashaad Richardson, me and R.J. are pretty cool,” Ali said adding Devonta White’s name to the list. “I still hang out with those guys sometimes.”

Ali said if he could compare himself to somebody on the team now, he would pick R.J. Hunter.

Ali said Hunter is a smart player who has a high basketball IQ.

“I’d like to think I was somewhat of a good IQ player,” Ali said.

Ali did not get to compete in the Sun Belt like Richardson since the University was still apart of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

“I wish I could have played in the Sun Belt,” Ali said. “Night in and night out, CAA was pretty tough.”

“Not to discount these guys on what they’re doing because it’s also amazing, pretty much handle their business on the road, at home, so it’s exciting to see these guys and their success that they’re having.”