College basketball season is soon to be underway and nobody is more excited for this highly anticipated season than Coach Hayes’ squad. The Panthers are entering this season fresh off an impressive 2021-22 season. The Panthers went 18-11 last year with an impressive run in the Sun Belt tournament leading to a conference championship. The Panthers secured the 16th-seed in NCAA Tournament and faced off against the one-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs. Now the Panthers are coming into the 2022-23 season as the Sun Belt tournament champions and plan to defend that title with mostly new faces.
The Panthers start the season with quite a few changes this season. The Panthers have a new head man running things; former Xavier Musketeers Interim Head Coach, Jonas Hayes. Hayes began last season as an assistant coach helping the Musketeers end the regular season 20-13 including big wins against No.19 Ohio State and No.24 UConn.
He would later be elevated to interim head coach, where he led the Musketeers to an outstanding run in the National Invitational Tournament. Coach Hayes assisted in Xavier’s four consecutive winning seasons and two postseason berths. On April 6, 2022, Hayes was officially announced as Georgia State’s new head basketball coach.
“I want to play as fast as we can play well offensively but create an identity on the defensive end,” said coach Hayes after a first workout of the season. “We want to build a strong identity of being the toughest and the nastiest team in the Sun Belt that’s also committed to getting better daily – that is what we’re all about.”
Along with a new head coach, the team has plenty of role players from the last year returning including sophomores Ja’Heim Hudson, Kaleb Scott, Jamall Clyce and Danny Stubbs. Other returnees include experienced vets Collin Moore, Evan Johnson, Joe Jones III and Kalik Brooks. Last season Johnson averaged 5.3 PPG, 1.2 APG and 1.2 RPG. Hudson averaged 5.0 PPG and 4.6 RPG.
The Panthers are starting their 2022-23 campaign in the newly built convocation center. The Panthers will begin the season against the Coastal Georgia Mariners. Last season, Coastal Georgia would go 8-16 overall with a 3-13 conference record. Some key players for the 2022-23 opener include Kenny Brown (senior, guard), Anthony Duncan (Junior, forward) and Diamond Smith (Junior, guard).
Guard Kenny Brown averaged 11.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 1.5 APG. Guard Diamond Smith averaged 7.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 0.9 APG. Anthony Duncan last season averaged 8.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG. The Mariners are led by head coach Jesse Watkins who is entering his 9th season leading the program.
The season is bright for the Georgia State basketball team. The team has returning veterans who know what it takes to succeed in the postseason. This team is led by a great leader with an impressive resume under his belt. Coach Hayes’ squad is striving to repeat as Sun Belt champions and will stop at nothing to reach that feat.