By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The 2021-22 season has officially arrived for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team, as the Golden Eagles embark on a trek west down I-40 for an in-state match-up with No. 12 Memphis Tuesday evening.
The season opener will feature a 7:00 p.m. CT tip against the defending National Invitation Tournament champions and a Tigers squad that features the nation's top-ranked recruiting class. Memphis was selected to finish second in the 2021-22 American Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.
The Golden Eagles will kick off their campaign in Memphis for the second time in four seasons after squaring off with the Tigers in the 2018-19 season opener. Memphis won that bout, 76-61, the collegiate debut of Tech star guard Jr. Clay.
Back for his fourth season in the purple and gold, Clay was once again named to the Preseason All-OVC Team, the third such honor in his Golden Eagle career. The returning junior finished second in the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring a season ago, averaging a whopping 17.3 points per game.
The Chattanooga native represents one of 10 returning players for the Tech squad this season, a group that welcomes in seven newcomers, including five Division I transfers and a pair of freshmen. After missing the postseason the past three years, the Golden Eagles were selected to make the OVC Tournament field in the 2021-22 preseason predicted order of finish, picked eighth overall and just three points back of SIUE.
Back to join Clay in the backcourt for the third year in a row is guard Keishawn Davidson, who flirted with a triple-double in Tech's exhibition tune-up on Oct. 28 against Berea. The returning sophomore scored 12 points and dished out 10 assists with just a single turnover. He corralled eight rebounds as well.
Also returning are forwards Shandon Goldman and Amadou Sylla, bringing back 4.5 and 5.4 rebounds per game, respectively. Goldman produced 13 points and six boards in the exhibition while Sylla contributed 12 points and six rebounds of his own. Returning freshman Kenny White Jr. led the team with 10 rebounds while scoring seven points.
Joining the Tech forces from other Division I institutions and bringing a wealth of experience and leadership, are Diante Wood (Jacksonville/Alabama), Daniel Ramsey (Xavier), Mamoudou Diarra (Cincinnati), Caleb Christopher (Arizona State), and John Pettway (South Alabama).
Ramsey led the Golden Eagles in scoring in the contest against Berea, finishing 8-for-10 from the floor for 16 points. Pettway enjoyed a strong debut as well, sinking 7-of-8 attempts for 15 points while adding five assists and three steals.
Wood was perfect from the floor in the 104-63 victory, draining all six of his shots for 12 points while adding four dimes. Christopher chipped in eight points off the bench, as well as four rebounds.
Season tickets for Tennessee Tech basketball are on sale now. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office, or log on to TTUSports.com to order yours today.
Photo by Jim Dillon