Carson-Newman Men’s Hoops: Backcourt Preview

Carson-Newman Men’s Hoops: Backcourt Preview

VIDEO: Jared Johnson Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – This is the first part of a two-part series analyzing the Carson-Newman men's hoops team position-by-position.  This preview breaks down the Eagles backcourt with senior guard Jared Johnson (Springfield, Mass.).

Carson-Newman's guards for 2014-15 are as much about who's new as who's left. Gone are four seniors who all continue their basketball careers as either coaches or professionals.

Antoine Davis and Ish Sanders combined to score more than 3,400 points in their careers at C-N and now play professionally in Germany and Kosovo.

"Those are two of the greatest people to play here at Carson-Newman," Johnson said. "Losing them is big, but we do have a talented group coming in.  They'll learn, we'll get it and be alright."  

Ray Likely and Kevin Leatherwood were two key reserve guards who have now entered into the coaching profession – likely as an assistant for his alma mater and Leatherwood for Division III Hampden-Sydney. 

Johnson is the leader of the group.  He was Carson-Newman's third leading scorer at 10.3 points per game and started 26 of the 27 games in which he appeared.  He missed one game and one start with a bout of pink eye.  He was C-N's leader with 4.2 assists per game and shot and absurd 55 percent from the field and 53 percent from three-point range.

"I'm trying to be a guy that people can lean on and come to for questions," Johnson said. "I've got a few years under my belt.  I just have to show them (the new guys) that experience to tell them what to expect in certain situations."

He had 14 games with at least 10 points, one 20-point game and 11 games where he handed out five assists.  He also produced seven, five-rebound games.  Johnson reset his career high for points with a 27-point effort in a home win over Newberry (1/25).

Other returnees include Andy Barnett (Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) and Jay Lane (Manassas, Va.).  Both players saw spot duty for Chuck Benson's club in 2013-14.  Barnett had a career high nine points in the Eagles' NCAA tournament loss to the Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters.

A pair of former Siegel Stars should factor in prominently in the backcourt.  Charles Clark and Ryan Jones helped lead Siegel High School to the Tennessee Final Four as juniors and Elite Eight as seniors.

"They like to win and like to play hard," Johnson said. "There's some transition they have to make from high school to college.  They and we have to learn day-by-day. They're learning and we're having a good preseason so far.  They're trying to understand how we do things here at Carson-Newman."

Clark, A 6-2 guard, scored 1,510 points in his high school career en route to a McDonald's All-American nomination.  His senior year, Clark averaged 17.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.  He was a three-time All-District 7-AAA and All-Region 4-AAA selection. 

Jones scored 1,151 points in his career while averaging a team-best 17.36 points and 7.9 boards a game in his senior season.  Jones is a two-time All-District 7-AAA, All-Region 4-AAA and All-State honoree.  He was the district and region MVP in his senior year.

Joining Jones and Clark among the newcomers is Mason Bates.  He averaged 14 points, 7.0 boards and 4.8 assists in his senior season for the Cookeville Cavaliers. He canned 50 percent of his shots and 36 percent of his threes his senior year.  He earned All-Discrict accolades while dishing out 100 assists and was also an All-Region selection and BCAT East/West All Star Game participant.

"This is the first year where we start the first half of the season that's pretty much on the road," Johnson said. "That's something we have to prepare for.  We have to take the young guys in and get them ready in a hurry."

Christian Harris should help the Eagles recover from losing 83 percent of their made threes from last year. The long-range sniper shot 42 percent from three in his senior season in Mesa, Ariz.  He averaged 16.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. He appeared on the Mesa All-District second team his sophomore and junior seasons before earning first team All-District honors as a senior.  As a senior, he was also a member of the Sports360AZ All-Academic Basketball Team.

Madisonville, Tenn.-native Taylor Hawkins rounds out the Eagles' guards.   He's a three-time all-district and all-Monroe County selection and earned All-District Five tournament team and Tennessee Preps All-Region his junior and senior season.  Finished his high school career with 1,234 career points and 651 career rebounds.

The Eagles open up their season Nov. 15-16 in the 45-Second Classic against Mount Olive and Barton.  

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