Starting the 2013-2014 season for the Panther’s men’s basketball team will return to a familiar challenge, competing in the Sun Belt Conference, having been one of the founding members of the conference when it was began operations in 1976. The move marks 29 years since the school’s departure from the Sun Belt to compete in the Trans America Athletic Conference (now Atlantic Sun Conference).
This past season, the Panthers struggled at times, finishing with a 15-16 record (10-8 in conference), at one point losing nine of twelve in a difficult stretch in the middle of the season. The team rebounded by winning six of their next seven games, and closed with a 9-5 record to complete their season.
Through the late signing period, the Panthers added two guards in Isaiah Dennis of Eagles Landing (McDonough, Ga.) and Jaylen Hinton of Trinity Episcopal (Richmond, Va.). Dennis averaged 16.2 points and 4.3 assists per game, while Hinton averaged 17.5 points per game and 5.0 assists per game. The two players will compete for spots in the Panthers rotation in the fall.
The Panthers are still waiting on the NCAA decision on former Kentucky Wildcat point guard Ryan Harrow, who is transferring to Georgia State in an effort to be closer to his ailing father. Harrow applied for a hardship waiver that would allow him to play for the Panthers without having to sit out the requisite year. There is no timetable on the NCAA’s decision, but it is expected to be sometime during the summer.
As the Panthers move into the Sun Belt and into the public eye, the competition will improve. Georgia State has the advantage of continuity on their side, however, returning four of five starters (losing senior center James Vincent to graduation) from last year’s squad, including CAA Rookie of the year in guard RJ Hunter. Ron Hunter, the head coach of the team, will be entering his third year as coach of the Panthers, and that added experienced will improve the Panthers chance at a winning season.