2 journeys, 1 destination: Transfer duo plays to win

Junior forward TreVon Spillers runs past the Dukes defense Jan. 25, 2024. The Charleston, South Carolina native scored 21 points along with seven rebounds and two blocks.
Junior forward Tre’Von Spillers runs past the Dukes’ defense Jan. 25, 2024. The Charleston, South Carolina native scored 21 points along with seven rebounds and two blocks.
Emily Simpson

Two transfer App State standouts have made an immediate winning impact for head men’s basketball coach Dustin Kerns.

Junior forward Tre’Von Spillers and junior guard Myles Tate found a new home in Boone this season, and have contributed to an App State team looking to return to the NCAA tournament.

Before the season, the Mountaineers projected to be one of the top teams in the Sun Belt Conference. Six impact players returned from last season’s team that went 16-16 and lost in the second round of the conference tournament. 

This year, it took the Black and Gold 20 games to match last year’s win total. Their record currently sits at 20-5 overall and 10-2 in conference matchups. Some of the success can be credited to the returning players, but this team has been profoundly changed by the two transfers.

Junior forward Tre’Von Spillers slams it home against James Madison Jan. 25, 2024. Spilllers transferred to App State from Moberley Area Community College. (Emily Simpson)

Spillers leads the team with 13.4 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game, adding the second most blocks at 1.44 per game. His team-leading point total comes on the back of offensive efficiency as he shoots just under 64% from the field. Through 19 games, he has accounted for six double-doubles and four 20 or more point games.

Tate has come off the bench for the majority of games, but leads the team with 3.4 assists per game and 1.1 steals. He puts in 8.6 points per game and is the team’s best free-throw shooter at 77.3%. 

Tate’s best game came against Auburn, now one of the country’s best teams. He scored a season-high 18 points, including five in the final 33 seconds. A step-back three-point jumper and two clutch free throws from Tate vaulted the Mountaineers above the Tigers, sending the App State faithful into a frenzy.

The two high-performing transfers have found a home in App State, but their journey’s don’t look the same. Both played high school basketball in South Carolina, but had different routes to the collegiate level. 

Tate played at Dorman High School in Roebuck, South Carolina, where he won four state championships. As a four-star recruit, he received offers from big-name schools like South Carolina, Ole Miss, Butler, Clemson and Pittsburgh. He eventually made his decision and committed to become a Butler Bulldog.

At Butler, he played in 57 games over three seasons, starting 18 games as a freshman. In his first year, he played over 25 minutes per game, the most of his career. His time on the court and his numbers took a downturn in the following two years, leading to his decision to enter his name in the transfer portal.

It all starts with him being an incredible teammate and always putting the team first,” Kerns said. “That attitude and mindset becomes contagious and his teammates love him.” 

Spillers played high school basketball at Military Magnet Academy in Charleston, South Carolina. He had a tougher recruiting process out of high school with little interest.

“The JUCO recruitment process for me was better once I left South Carolina and traveled further away from home,” Spillers said.

He made a stop at the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie before taking the junior college path, playing at Moberly Area Community College in Moberly, Missouri. He quickly found success on that level, leading all Division I JUCO players with 4.9 blocks per game and the third-most rebounds per game at 11. While contributing on the glass and defense, he added 12.9 points per game with 62% shooting success, leading his team to 30 wins and four losses. 

After he was recognized as an All-American at the JUCO level, he made the decision to take his game to another

Junior guard Myles Tate looks past the Georgia State defense Jan. 17, 2024. Tate transfered from Butler in the spring. (Landon Williams)

degree and transfer to App State and the Sun Belt.

“On both sides of the floor he provides tremendous value for our team,” Kerns said. “He is someone who puts the team first and has embraced and fulfilled his role to the team really well.” 

Both players felt an immediate connection to the team during the transfer recruiting process. 

“I came and played pick-up with the guys and that was the main thing that made me come here,” Tate said. “Just playing with them, seeing their game, seeing their personalities off the court too.”  

The instant chemistry and family-feel has paid off for all parties. Tate and Spillers contribute at a high level and App State gets two players that have instantly impacted winning in Boone. 

The quest for championships has continued throughout the regular season, but will be emphasized in March during the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

“I want to accomplish as many championships as I can while I’m here,” Spillers said. “Just keep winning, being a winning program.” 

Spillers, Tate and the rest of the Mountaineer basketball team is playing to add a second Sun Belt championship, a bid to the NCAA tournament and a chance of attaining the first NCAA tournament win in program history.

“When I leave, I want to be known as a winner,” Tate said.

Come March, opposing teams will scout Spillers and Tate as winners and difference makers for this Mountaineer basketball team.

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    ConnieFeb 19, 2024 at 7:07 pm

    What a great article, these 2 stars will surely lead us to a final four appearance. Kolby Shea writes with so much passion and charisma, his words just come to life on my phone. I’m sure he’s a even better speaker in person I hope to meet him one day!