App State men’s basketball newcomers prepare to navigate upcoming season

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Courtesy App State Athletics/Jay Crain

This year’s App State men’s basketball recruiting class features four true freshman and three transfers. After winning their most games since 2010-11 last year, the Mountaineers and these new pieces will look to compete for a Sun Belt Championship.

Cameron Burnett, Reporter

App State is welcoming seven players to their men’s basketball program for the 2020-21 season. Of the seven, three are transfers and four are freshmen coming out of high school.

This recruiting class had to adjust to a different kind of season due to COVID-19 guidelines and hasn’t had the regular opportunities to prepare for the season.

“With the NCAA rules, we would’ve scrimmaged probably one or two people by now, at least one, to get a chance to adjust some things and see yourself against someone else,” head coach Dustin Kerns said.

Freshmen guards Xavion Brown and Michael Eads are the 4th and 5th highest-ranked recruits all time at App State, according to 247Sports. 

Brown is a 6-foot-3-inch, 180-pound guard from Sacramento, California, who won Co-Delta Player of the Year at Sheldon High School and helped lead the Huskies to the Delta League title.

“We were turning over every rock in the country and Xavion was a guy that was presented to us, and ironically, he wanted to travel east,” Kerns said. “(He) has some family in Greensboro, just wanted to get away from home. He was someone who really fit what we are about.”

Eads is a 6-foot-4-inch, 200-pound guard from Orlando, Florida, who averaged 16.8 points and 9.3 rebounds at Edgewater High School.

“Eads is a big guard who can shoot the ball, and he has had some really good days for us,” Kerns said.

CJ Huntley is a 6-foot-10-inch freshman forward from Huntersville who brings a lot of length to the floor on both ends.

Sasha Glushkov, a 6-foot-11-inch center, is another freshman who adds to the size of the team, and can play inside and out for the Mountaineers. Kerns and his staff brought in the Russian native as a developmental player for the team.

“He’s versatile and we like that. He’s a guy who can step out and shoot the three, he’s a guy that has some good size, and he’s gained some good weight since he’s been here … certainly gonna be a good player here for us,” Kerns said.

The four freshmen bring versatility to the floor because two are guards and two are frontcourt players. It adds to the depth for the future of this team.

Besides the freshmen, three transfers are coming to the Mountaineers, including guard Michael Almonacy.

Almonacy is a graduate transfer who played at Southern New Hampshire during the 2019-20 season, averaging 15.6 points per game. He had multiple transfer options, but decided that App State was his best opportunity.

“For me, it was coming down to where I felt like I could win a championship to finish my college career as well as to get better as a player,” Almonacy said. “It felt like it was the best situation for me to play at and compete for a championship with the team we got.”

Almonacy is one of the oldest players on the team and brings a veteran presence, having played three years of college basketball at other schools.

RJ Duhart is another transfer on the team. Duhart is a 6-foot-9-inch, 205-pound forward who led Northwest Mississippi Community College in blocks last season with 47 before transferring to App State.

The coaching staff is excited for transfer Deshon Parker, but he hasn’t yet had his waiver cleared to play at App State in 2020-21.

Last year, Parker was James Madison’s starting point guard who led the team in assists while averaging 10.1 points over 30 games. As a 6-foot-4-inch guard, he also brings length to the team like the freshmen and expects to be able to play this season.

The Mountaineers will begin their season Nov. 25 at South Carolina State.