NACOGDOCHES, TX (News Release) - Never in the six-plus decades of its existence has the Southland Conference witnessed one men's basketball team claim four consecutive regular season championships.
The senior class of the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team, however, has already gained a reputation for penning history and two of those five individuals have been integral parts of the three-straight league titles seized by the Lumberjacks.
Armed with the high caliber-leadership and enviable basketball resumes of Demetrious Floyd, Clide Geffrard, Jared Johnson, Trey Pinkney and Thomas Walkup, the `Jacks have an excellent chance to accomplish yet another first for both the program and the SLC in 2015-16.
With a combined nine Southland Conference championship rings between them, the senior class of third-year head coach Brad Underwood's squad serves as the primary structural support for SFA as it begins its attempt to construct another memorable season.
Very little introduction is needed for Walkup, who has succeeded in making a name for himself as one of the nation's best basketball warriors heading into a 2015-16 campaign in which he hopes to help lead the `Jacks to an unprecedented fourth-straight Southland Conference title.
A slew of individual citations were racked up by the Pasadena, Texas, product in 2014-15. Those awards and honors include being selected as a Lou Henson All-American, an Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press, the Southland Conference Player of the Year and the Southland Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Walkup stands poised rise near or to the summit of any number of statistical categories in SFA's record book with one final strong season and no player in NCAA Division I men's basketball succeeded in matching Walkup's 2014-15 statistical line of 15.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while connecting on 56.7-percent of his field goal tries.
The keys to the proverbial Stephen F. Austin offensive vehicle have jangled solely from the waistband of Pinkney since 2013-14 and in that time the floor general from Katy, Texas, has directed any and all on-court operations of one of the nation's most efficient offenses.
None of the `Jacks' 69 games in the Underwood era have tipped without Pinkney being present in the starting lineup. Controlling the ball movement for a team that led the nation in assists per game (17.8) last season, Pinkney registered 131 assists in his junior campaign. The aforementioned total is the sixth-best single-season mark in program history.
Owning a statistical line of 3.5 points, 3.9 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game last season, Pinkney made sure the Lumberjacks finished among the top-10 on the national scene in a pair of other categories including field goal percentage (fifth, 49.1) and points per game (ninth, 79.5).
Appearing exclusively off the bench in his first season at an NCAA Division I institution, Floyd logged 14.6 minutes per game and quickly distinguished himself as a streaky scorer with a penchant for launching - and hitting - the long ball. Over the course of his 34 games in an SFA uniform, the St. Louis, Mo., product connected on 51 of his 123 long-range dial ups - a number that placed him second among the SFA ranks and 12th when compared to all other SLC student-athletes.
Floyd made an appearance in each and every one of SFA's 34 engagements last season and when Northern Iowa rolled into Nacogdoches to do battle with the `Jacks on ESPN2 as part of the network's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, he established a career high in scoring by pumping in 20 points.
A fellow downtown specialist, Johnson was a 20-game starter for SFA and generated 8.3 points and 1.5 rebounds per game during his opening number in Nacogdoches. A former Hill College star, the native of Columbia, S.C., drilled 46 treys a season ago and finished the season with the third-best percentage from beyond the arc on Underwood's roster (41.4-percent).
In the midst of what seemed to be the most exceptional stretch of collegiate basketball produced by Geffrard, who hails from Pompano Beach, Fla., an untimely injury relegated the forward to the bench for SFA's Southland Conference tournament championship bout and left him performing at a non-optimal level in the `Jacks second-round NCAA Tournament clash with Utah.
Now, a healthy Geffrard - who was one of four SFA players to hit field goals at a rate north of 50-percent last season - aspires to help author another exciting chapter for the `Jacks in his collegiate curtain call. The fourth-leading scorer for SFA in 2014-15, the 6-5 forward put in points at a rate of 8.5 per game and started three of the 33 games he took part in.
To purchase season tickets for the 2015-16 men's basketball season, fans can contact the SFA ticket office at (936) 468-JACK (5225).