App Nation Previews: Men’s Basketball


Andy McLean

Head coach Dustin Kerns led the Mountaineers back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000 in his second year at App State. Nearly the entire squad, with the addition of three freshmen, returns to Boone, poised for another late-season run.

Ben Brady, Reporter

Prior to bringing in head coach Dustin Kerns at the conclusion of the 2019 season, App State men’s basketball had tallied eight straight losing seasons. In his first season with the program, Kerns led the Mountaineers to 18 wins, their most since 2009-10, including 11 Sun Belt victories, their most conference wins ever. In his second season at the helm, App State won its first Sun Belt conference title and earned its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2000. 

Entering the Sun Belt Conference tournament tied for seventh place in the Sun Belt standings, and having lost six of their final seven regular-season games, the Mountaineers secured four victories in four days, including consecutive overtime battles against regular-season league champion Texas State, and East No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina. The run culminated in an 80-73 victory over No. 1 seed Georgia State, securing the Mountaineers’ conference title. 

Graduate guard Michael Almonacy, who joined the team as a transfer senior prior to the 2019 season, erupted for a career-high 32 points in the championship-clinching game. For his efforts of 21.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game, on top of a tournament record 20 3-pointers, Almonacy was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. 

Senior guard Justin Forrest, who was named First Team All-Sun Belt after the 2019-20 season, was named Second Team All-Sun Belt and to the Sun Belt All-Tournament team after averaging 20.0 points and scoring in double figures each game. Forrest currently ranks third in program history with 1,828 points, just 357 behind all-time leader Donald Sims. He also ranks fourth in career 3-point field goals made, fourth in steals, and ninth in assists. 

Junior guard Adrian Delph, who tallied career-high numbers in points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks, was named Third Team All-Sun Belt alongside Almonacy. Delph continued a high level of play into the Sun Belt Tournament, where he averaged 17.8 points per game. 

Though the Mountaineers lost their NCAA Tournament opener in a close 54-53 defeat, with the presence of a young core, returning experienced veterans, and with coach Kerns extended through the 2026 season, the future of the program is bright.