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2012-13 Men's Hoops Outlook: Wings
As the Liberty men's basketball team prepares for its Nov. 9 season opener at Richmond, LibertyFlames.com will provide a four-part preview of the 2012-13 season. Today's article provides a look at the Flames' shooting guards and small forwards.
The Flames are expected to have a number of options at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. John Caleb Sanders, the younger brother of Liberty all-time assist leader JesseSanders, returns for his third season. After seeing limited action during his freshman season, John Caleb transformed into an offensive threat for the Flames, last year. The Sugar Land, Texas native more than doubled his scoring numbers in his sophomore season, finishing the year as Liberty's third-leading scorer with 11.6 points per game.
In addition, John Caleb continued to be effective from behind the three-point arc, leading the team in three-point field goals with 61.
"John Caleb continues to improve and was probably our most efficient player over the last 8-10 games last year," Layer commented. "As he gains confidence and consistency, his numbers go up. I was greatly excited about his sophomore campaign. If he continues to build on that, he will be a really good scorer for us and play two or three different positions on the floor."
Transferring to Liberty from Cape Fear last season, Tavares Speaks instantly provided the Flames with a strong presence on both ends of the court. Averaging 10.2 points per game, the Raleigh, N.C., native concluded the year second on the team behind Jesse Sanders in steals with 37. Known for picking the pockets of the opposing guard before taking it to the hoop, Speaks posted double-digit scoring figures in 19 contests, while garnering multiple steals in a game on 11 occasions.
"Tavares may be as improved as anyone in our program," Layer noted. "He had a really good junior year while figuring out what he needed to do and how hard he needed to work. He struggled last year due to inconsistency. I'm expecting much more consistency and stellar play offensively and defensively from Tavares. He could be an all-league type player."
A new face expected to receive minutes at a wing position is Jarred Jourdan. A junior college transfer from Las Positas College, Jourdan averaged 16 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 49.0 percent from the floor for the Hawks. Jourdan's efforts earned him first team All Coast Conference North Division honors.
"Jarred is very mature, athletic, long and plays 2-3 different positions," Layer said. "He scores the ball several different ways and is coming off a really good freshman year at junior college. He brings toughness, scoring leadership and athleticism to us. He's a guy that we are expecting to be really good quickly and we need him to assume some major scoring and defensive roles for us."
Another junior college transfer expected to make an impact, Chad Donley adds to Liberty's growing arsenal of outside shooters. Donley played at Northwest Florida State, last season, helping the team post a 32-2 record. The Baker, Fla., native averaged 8.0 points per game, earning second team all-conference honors.
"Chad played on the second-best junior college team in the country, Northwest Florida State," Layer mentioned. "He is terrific outside shooter and tough competitor. He has been in big games and brings experience, toughness and outside shooting. I think he addresses a lot our weaknesses going into the season."
While Layer coached the team from the sidelines last season, his son Ethan stepped onto the court, providing three-point baskets for the Flames in key spots. During his freshman year, the younger Layer hit 17 treys, including a seven-game streak in December in which he posted at least one three-point field goal. In Liberty's conference game against Campbell, the walk-on posted a season-high 11 points, hitting a trio of three-pointers and two shots from the foul line.
"I think Ethan played a little more than what we thought he'd play last year," Layer said. "He is a terrific shooter with good range and a really great feel for the game. He just needs to continue to work and get a little bigger. He helped us last year and I think he has some good basketball in front of him."
Joining Taylor as the only other freshman on the team is guard/forward Wesley Alcegaire. Hailing from Miami, Fla., Alcegaire makes his way to the Hill City after a successful stint at Miami Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School.
This past season, Alcegaire was instrumental in leading the Knights to a 27-3 record and a regional finals appearance. The Floridian averaged 28.1 points, 11 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game during his senior year. Alcegaire's on-court performance did not go unnoticed, as he was named to the 2011-12 Florida Association of Basketball Coaches 3A All-State team and earned first team All-Dade County honors.
A dual-sport athlete, Alcegaire was also a letterwinner in track & field, capturing the district high jump title in the 2012 Florida High School Athletic Association District 16 Championships on April 12.
"Wes is long and could be a defensive stopper," Layer said. "He is athletic and scores the ball in multiple ways. He can play multiple positions and has a great upside. He is beginning to figure out college basketball and once he grows and matures, he is going to be a really good player."
Rounding out the wing players is Casey Roberts, who like Marshall, Jourdan and Donley, brings junior college experience to the Flames' roster. A two-time first team all-region and all-conference selection at Allegany College of Maryland, Roberts is expected to add depth at the wing positions.
"Casey is a junior college transfer who brings a lot of toughness and scoring ability," Layer said. "He is a terrific outside shooter and a team guy. He is someone who can be a solid contributor for us."