By: Colin Bulger | Health and Wellness Editor
Photo courtesy of USA Men’s Basketball
Every preseason, head coach Richie Riley and his coaching staff take a brief hiatus from basketball. The team traveled two and a half hours to Pine Lake Fellowship Camp in Meridian, Mississippi where we got our minds off the workload of division one basketball.
We participated in team-building activities in what Director of Operations, Mikel Kosich, calls the “Team Olympics”. We competed against each other in a cornhole tournament, ping pong, and foursquare. We tested our patience and talked about life on the pond fishing. We threw axes at a target or at least tried to. We watched football, ate great food, sat around a campfire, told stories, and had a great time.
On the first night, the team, including players, coaches, graduate assistants, and student assistants, got together to share a little bit about their lives and how they got to where they are today. Some opened up, and some chose to stay quiet. Regardless of what was exchanged, this brought the team closer together.
The players are very optimistic about the upcoming season. Their undeniable team spirit is infectious and apparent in all they do.
Elijah Ormistron, a 6’8” transfer from Concordia University, St. Paul, brings positivity and excitement everywhere he goes. When he’s on the court he is locked in and focused. Ormistron says the trip was “a great team-building experience. I got to get closer to the guys. [We] had some fun times, played a lot of games, had some great times, good food, good vibes.”
When asked what he wants to get out of this trip, Ormistron hoped “to connect more with the guys, hoping to get to know everyone a little bit better, build team chemistry. You gotta be able to know the guys off the court to be able to connect with them on the court,” Ormistron said. “Chemistry is important on and off. As we get to know each other, we’ll get a better understanding of how to process each other.”
Adam Sizemore, better known among his teammates as “Size”, is a veteran in the locker room and has been with the program for four years. He received his undergraduate degree in sports management last year and is currently in graduate school, studying for a master’s in educational leadership for higher education.
Sizemore’s favorite part of the trip was spending time with the guys. “You see these guys every day, so it’s good to get to know them deeper than basketball,” Sizemore said.
Size hopes to have another 20-win season and get to March Madness. “I’ve been lucky to have such great teammates in my four years here, but this is the closest we’ve been as a team”.
Judah Brown, a 6’6” forward transfer from St. Mary’s College of California, scored a career-high 16 points against the number-one seed Gonzaga in the 2020-21 season.
“I’ve played college basketball for a while, and I definitely haven’t had this much fun with a team before. They’re great guys to be around,” Brown said. “Most of these guys are in their first year at this school. Most of these guys are new, but still, the comradery is there. We have fun. It is special.”
Brown credits the excellent team chemistry to the types of guys that Coach Riley recruits and chooses for his staff. He gained a deeper understanding of everybody on a personal level on and off the court.
“The morale is great. Despite being in the preseason, we are super competitive, playing efficient, high-level basketball. I think this will do very well contributing to the team’s success.”
Alden Parham, better known as “AP”, is in his second year here at South Alabama. Before transferring to South Alabama, he attended Virginia Military Institute where he received his undergraduate degree in Psychology. He moved here to play and earn his graduate degree in sports management. Currently, he is working on obtaining his coaching certificate. Parham enjoyed the bonding time spent with the team.
“My experience at the retreat was amazing. The team bonding and engagement were everything. The guys had fun and I enjoyed learning more about each of our guys and the coaches,” Parham said. “With any great team, team bonding is essential. Learning each other and spending time with each other builds trust which carries over tremendously to success.”
The Jaguars and their staff are optimistic. The Hoops Resource ranks the Jags seventh in the Mid-Major pre-season top 25 polls. Mid-Major Madness predicts the Jags to win the Sun Belt Conference. CBB Nation also predicts the Jags to win the Sun Belt Conference. CBB Nation has TCU transfer Kevin Samuel as the first-ranked transfer in the Sunbelt Conference and Freshman guard Jamar Franklin as the seventh-best freshman in the sunbelt.
Be sure to pack the Mitchell Center to support our Jags this season. There are less than 50 days till tipoff, and you are not going to want to miss this team. You can find the full game schedule on usajaguars.com.
Burn the Boats!