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Motlow College Athletic News

Motlow Bucks open state title defense with experience, depth, and expectations

Oct. 19, 2017

With eight players returning from last year's roster, a first-year head coach, and fresh off the greatest season in school history, the Motlow Bucks head into the 2017-18 season with experience, depth, and perhaps the highest expectations of any team in recent memory.

The Bucks will open this year's basketball campaign Wednesday, Nov. 1, when they travel to Rome, Ga., to face Georgia Highlands. The two schools last met on Mar. 22, at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., with Motlow edging out a 70-69 decision that advanced the Bucks into the final eight. Georgia Highlands will return the trip when it comes to Copperweld Arena on Nov. 29 at 6 p.m.

Motlow is coming off a season that saw the program achieve a number of all-time school records, including the most wins (30) and the first trip to the final eight at the national tournament. In addition, the Bucks won the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) regular season and tournament titles. The conference sweep was the fourth in history for the program, with regular season and conference tournament titles also coming in 1972-73, 1983-84, and 2012-13.

Head Coach Arthur Latham takes over the program after former coach J.T. Burton departed in April to become an assistant coach at Morehead State University. Latham has been Burton's top assistant for the past two years, helping the Bucks compile a 55-13 record over that span, the best two-year record in Motlow history. Latham retains Zach Holt, who has also been with the Bucks the past two seasons, as his top assistant coach and brings in Nick Porter from Springfield, Ky., as his second assistant.

Latham and his staff have an outstanding nucleus to build around, including a trio of returning sophomores who earned extensive accolades last year. Add in the other five returnees, six talented freshmen, and a transfer who came out of high school as one of the top 55 players in the nation, and it's easy to see why excitement is high around Motlow's four campuses.

The group is led by second-team All-American Javion Hamlet, who led the nation with an average of 8.4 assists per game and paced the Bucks in scoring at 15.6 points per contest. Hamlet, a 6-4 southpaw guard from Memphis, was also named MVP of the conference tournament and first-team all-conference.

Joining Hamlet with multiple accolades is Rashawn Fredericks, a 6-6 guard from Tampa who averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per game last year, one of just a handful of Motlow players to ever achieve a double-double average for a season. Fredericks was the TCCAA Freshman of the Year and joined Hamlet as first-team all-conference for both the regular season and postseason tournament. Fredericks also played for the U.S. Virgin Islands national team during the summer.

Murfreesboro native Isaiah Hart was the third Buck that garnered individual awards last year. At 6-2, Hart showed amazing quickness in setting a new single-season Motlow record with 125 steals, including a record 10 in one game. Hart was named second-team all-conference for the regular season, then earned first-team conference all-tournament and was the only Buck named to the NJCAA all-tournament team.

Chad Emmons, a 6-8 forward from Kentucky and Dillon Smith, a 6-2 guard from Lexington, Tenn., also return after playing significant minutes last season. Smith played in all 36 games, starting nine, and averaged 6.1 points, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range. Emmons saw action in 28 contests, averaging 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.

Leonardo Castillo, Jr., from the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Kindravious Webster, from Nashville, each sat through a redshirt season last year. Both stand 6-4, and both will be counted on to be significant contributors during the coming campaign.

Headlining the newcomers is 6-11 post player Nick Marshall, who originally signed with the University of Memphis coming out of high school in 2015. Marshall, who was ranked as the No. 55 player in the nation at the time by one recruiting service, played one year at Memphis before sitting out last season. Joining Marshall on the transfer list is David Fraser, a 6-6 forward who played with Marshall and Smith at Lexington High School.

Additional freshmen joining the Bucks are out-of-state recruits Derrick Rayford from Toledo, Ohio; Zaire Swaby from Brooklyn New York; and Joshuel Hernandez from San Juan, Puerto Rico. In-state freshmen newcomers are Anthony Yarbrough from Memphis, Hayden Edmundson from Shelbyville, Justin Hill from Bartlett, and Joelah Solomon from McMinnville.

Motlow's first home game is Nov. 15, when the Bucks host the Cumberland University JV for a 7:30 p.m. contest. Cumberland is coached by former Motlow head coach Lonnie Thompson. TCCAA conference play begins Nov. 10 for Motlow with a trip to Jackson State, followed the next day by a contest at Columbia State. The first home conference weekend is Dec. 1 and 2, when the Bucks will host Cleveland State Friday night and Chattanooga State Saturday afternoon.

2017-18 Motlow Men's Basketball Team
The Motlow Bucks will open the 2017-18 season Nov. 1 when they travel to Rome, Ga., to play Georgia Highlands. Seated, from left: Anthony Yarbrough, Dillon Smith, Javion Hamlet, Isaiah Hart, Leo Castillo, Rashawn Fredericks, Derrick Rayford, and Hayden Edmundson. Standing, from left: Head Coach Art Latham, Joelah Solomon, Kin Webster, Kevonte Corley, David Fraser, Nick Marshall, Zaire Swaby, Chad Emmons, Justin Hill, Assistant Coach Nick Porter, and Assistant Coach Zach Holt. Motlow State Photo.