College of the Ozarks Bobcats look forward to taking the court for another successful season in 2018-2019, following six consecutive seasons that featured 20 or more wins.
Under the leadership of 16-year head coach Steve Shepherd, the Cats posted a 23-13 overall record last season. They ranked in the NAIA DII Top Ten in total assists (6.15), 3-point field goals made (349) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.4%), as well as total scoring offense (2,924).
Heading this season’s lineup are seniors Ethan Davidson and Heath Carmichael. The duo has made a significant impact on their team, playing key roles since their freshman year. Davidson led the Bobcats last season in scoring (14.85 ppg), rebounds (6.81/gm), and blocks (16). The Cats will focus on feeding Davidson whenever possible to facilitate inside scoring. His willingness to play tough around the baskets will also be crucial to the team’s success. Carmichael led his team by cashing in 88 three-pointers last season. In addition to his outside shooting, Carmichael demonstrated his versatility by collecting 190 defensive rebounds and effectively defending the opposition’s key player. Joining the pair is Ben Cody, who transferred to the College last season. Cody is a tough, hard-nosed player who does whatever is asked of him, whether providing an effective inside presence or stepping out to shoot. All three seniors were named as scholar athletes at the national level last season and are a great examples for the Cats both on the court and in the classroom.
Brandt Cochran and Storm Price comprise the junior class. Cochran joined the Cats as a freshman, increasing his playing time each year. He put up solid numbers across the board last season, highlighted by 68 three-pointers, 108 rebounds, 89 assists, and 44 steals. With a knack for putting the ball in the basket from inside or out, Cochran is expected to be one of the team’s top producers this season. Price, who joined the Cats last year and saw part-time action, provides a strong physical presence on the court. He will be called upon regularly to enter the game and use that presence, along with his hustle, to make an immediate impact.
Calvin Allen and Treydon Rackley, the team’s sophomore members, played in almost every game last season. Allen provides the team with great ball-handling skills and quickness. Last season he led the Bobcats in assists (3.79/gm) and steals (1.27/gm). Allen’s strong defense and passion for the game allow the Bobcats to count on him to lead them from the point. Rackley is a talented multi-purpose player. He has the ability to shoot, drive, and pass, while also being an excellent defender and rebounder. This could very well be his breakout season.
Newcomers to the lineup feature four freshmen guards: Klay Barton (Doniphan, Mo.) is a triple-threat on offense, posting a high school career point total of 1,843; Sam Chumley (Bryant, Ark.) is a good shooter, who averaged 8.6 ppg and brings experience defending the post; Bryce Duddridge (Willow Springs, Mo.) brings great shooting and passing—he put up 16.6 points per game last season; and Elias Werth (Hillsboro, Kan.) is an excellent defensive player and perimeter shooter—he averaged 16.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
Coach Shepherd believes his team is committed to playing solid defense and lowering the number turnovers this season. The Bobcats’ greatest challenge will be their lack of height, so they will rely on quickness and a strong basketball IQ to compensate accordingly.
The Bobcats are confident their teamwork and unselfish attitudes, alongside their willingness to play tough on the court, will be instrumental in attaining their season goals. The Cats will strive for balanced scoring—draining shots from the outside and feeding the ball inside. As a result, it would not be surprising, with their abundance of talented shooters, to see a different player emerge each night as the leading scorer.
As the Cats take the court this season, watch for them to utilize their full array of talents, combined with hard work and intensity, to reap big rewards.