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 2021 Bobcat Season Preview

Steve Shepherd enters his 20th season at the helm for the Bobcats. After a shortened 2020-21 campaign and a second-place finish in the A.I.I. Conference Tournament, the 2020 Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Inductee will look to continue the winning tradition of College of the Ozarks Basketball.

With the graduation of leading scorer Treydon Rackley (14 ppg, 5.3 rebounds per game), and no seniors on the 2021-22 roster, the juniors will be looked to for leadership in the 2021-22 season. While they may be young, this class has seen plenty of action in their first two years. That experience should play a vital role in getting the job done for the Bobcats. Andrew Mitchell (6’4, Blue Eye, MO) was a key contributor for the Bobcats the past two seasons. Playing in every game as a freshman and sophomore, Mitchell has gained valuable experience heading into the 2021-22 campaign. He will look to build on his 8.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game this season while using his 6’4 frame to make an impact on both ends of the floor. Matt Luebbert (6’4, Warsaw, MO) also played in every game in his first two seasons as a Bobcat and was a valuable contributor.As a 6’4 guard, Luebbert’s hustle and athleticism provide a difficult matchup on the Bobcat perimeter. His 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game will continue to rise in 2021-22. Cooper Long (6’2, Mountain Home, AR) rounds out the trio of juniors and he saw action in several games in 2020-21. The 6’2 guard will look to build on his late season success from three-point range and add to his overall contributions to the Bobcat program in 2021-2022.

The Bobcats have four sophomores that look to contribute on this year’s squad. Tanner Rogers (6’1, Webb City, MO) is a prolific 3-point shooter who loves to play defense. Shooting 44% from three-point range and 46% from the field in 2020-21, he was among the team leaders in those areas. He is a physically strong and fundamentally sound player that will be able to contribute in a variety of ways both offensively and defensively. Garrett Simmerman (6’9, Ash Grove, MO) started in all but one game a year ago. Simmerman averaged 7.6 points per game to go along with seven rebounds and gave the Bobcats much needed size in the paint. Tanner Diaz (5’11, Steelville, MO) started in over half the games in 2020-21 and will add point guard depth to the line-up. His great court vision elevates the level of play of his teammates. Josh Linehan (6’5, Rogersville, MO) rounds out the sophomore class. Linehan emerged as a key contributor a year ago with his 10.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. His ability to score inside and out make him a tough matchup for opponents. As an intense competitor, he can provide a spark for the Bobcats on both ends of the floor.

Coach Shepherd brings in five talented newcomers to the Bobcat roster in 2021-22. Blaine Cline (6’3, Ozark, MO) is a strong finisher at the rim and a capable outside shooter. His rebounding ability and inside/outside versatility will be a welcome addition to the Bobcats. Drew Vachon (6’0, Siloam Springs, AR) will take on some of the ball handling duties. An excellent three-point shooter, Drew will give the Bobcats another outside scoring threat. Kyle Flavin (6’2, Ozark, MO) will also be counted on to handle the ball this season. His ability to see the floor will translate to assists to his teammates. He is a scoring threat both inside and out and he has solid rebounding skills from the guard position. Buck Sanders (5’11, Forsyth, MO) brings toughness and aggressiveness to the Bobcats that feeds into his defensive tenacity. He is a good ballhandler and his three-point shooting will give the Bobcats another threat on the perimeter. JaCorey Thompson (6’3, Kansas City, MO) will give the Bobcats another strong inside presence. JaCorey’s ability to put the ball on the floor and drive adds another dimension in the post. His rebounding ability will contribute to added depth for the Bobcats in the paint..

The Bobcats will have a good mixture of youth and experience heading into 2021-22. Coach Shepherd says, “I am optimistic that our team will be able to compete at a high level this season. We have a talented group of newcomers to compliment a nice core of returning players. Chemistry and how quickly we come together will be key to our success as we begin play and progress through the season. I expect us to be a solid team on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.”

The Bobcats look forward to growing and working together this season to continue the winning tradition of Bobcat Basketball.