VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – To get set for Carson-Newman men's basketball season, a two-part series will break down C-N's position groups. This first part breaks down the Eagles' forwards with assistance from junior Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.).
Carson-Newman must replace a pair of starters down low after the graduation of Carson Brooks and Beer Shiva pro player Josh Rogers. The pair combined to average 20 points and shoot a combined 58 percent from the field. However, Bates isn't worried about the production from the post.
"Down low we have our vet in Sawyer Williams," Bates said. "We know what he's capable of doing and he's going to do it. Beyond him, it's trying to get the rest of us on the same page so we know what we're all going to do."
Williams wraps up a junior campaign with his first ever postseason laurels form the league office - a second team All-SAC honor. Williams, who became the 23rd member of the Eagles' 1,000-point club in the SAC quarterfinals against Wingate, will head into his senior season second on the active leaderboard in Division II in career field goal percentage. He will rank sixth among active leaders next year among players in all divisions.
Williams made 61 percent of his shots in his junior campaign to finish seventh in the league. He has shot 61 percent from the field throughout his career. The Morehead State transfer was second on the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game. He also led the Eagles in rebounding with 7.0 boards per game.
Williams tallied his best game of the season against Lincoln Memorial in Harrogate when he dropped 37 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in defeat. The junior had a pair of double-doubles on the season and had an octet of 20-point efforts. Wiliams had 20 points and 10 boards against No. 20 Lenoir-Rhyne for his other double-double aside from the LMU game.
Bates moves down low after he averaged 8.5 points per game to go along with 3.4 rebounds per contest. He shot 51 percent from the field and 39 percent from three to go along with a 72.1 percent effort at the charity stripe.
"I'm not thinking too much about it," Bates said of the move to the front court. "I'm there to be able to spread the floor and switch up from three-out to four-around-one. I can make passes out of the post and still be able bring my guard skills to the floor will hopefully be an advantage. I just want to be more physical this year."
Bates topped double digits in 11 games for C-N as a sophomore including a career high 20 against Mars Hill (2/3). The Eagles were 9-2 when he scored at least 10.
"Replacing people who put the ball in the hole like that is always hard to do," Bates said. "I think we might have more of a team aspect. Parker and I can create shots for other people. Josh can get offensive rebounds and stick backs like crazy. This group isn't necessarily about getting the ball one-on-one and scoring on people."
Bates said that he's excited for Carson-Newman fans to finally get a look Paker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.) and Josh Murray (Burlington, N.C.) after the pair spent last year on the sidelines with eligibility issues and injuries, respectively.
"Both of them are really athletic," Bates said. "They are long, lanky and athletic. I really expect their defense to show out more than their offense would. Really looking for them to get defensive stops for us."
Role' transferred two years ago from Montevallo. He served as a role player on the Falcons' Sweet 16 team in 2014-15. He played in 24 of the Falcons' contests and averaged 8.5 minutes per appearance. He finished the year with a 1.8 scoring average and 2.2 rebounds per game. He connected on 63 percent of his field goal attempts as a freshman. Role' scored a career high 10 points in the Falcons' win over Carver Bible on a career best five-for-nine shooting.
Murray made the move to Carson-Newman from Jacksonville University. Murray was a reserve player for the Dolphins who came off the bench in 16 games in his sophomore season. He averaged 0.9 points per game and 1.1 rebounds with four-point efforts against Hofstra, Florida International and Northern Kentucky highlighting his season. As a freshman, he came off the bench 21 times to score 0.7 points and grab 1.5 boards a game. He grabbed a career high six rebounds in his first collegiate game against Trinity Baptist.
Murray and Role' will be complemented down low by Dmitrii Bykov (Moscow, Russia) and John-Reed Barnes (Gate City, Va.).
In his high school career, Bykov averaged 18.3 points and seven rebounds per game en route to scoring more than 1,500 career points. He was named the team's MVP for his senior season and was an all-tournament selection at the Impact Winter Classic in 2015-16.
Barnes scored 1,087 points in his career while averaging 15.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in his senior year. He is a three-time Conference 40 first team selection and a two-time 2A West Region first team selection. He earned second team all-state honors as a junior before moving up to the first team as a senior. Barnes helped the Blue Devils to a state runner-up trophy as a freshman and the final four as a senior.
"Dima is a big guy," Bates said. "He has really nice touch around the rim and is so crafty with his moves. John-Reed can step out on the perimeter and enable us to spread the floor with some range."
Carson-Newman's men's basketball position previews continue Wednesday with the guards and assistance from Zack Pangallo (Newport, Ky.).