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Inflow of talent bolstering Drexel hoops to new heights | The Triangle

Inflow of talent bolstering Drexel hoops to new heights

Sophomore guard Coletrane Washington (above) prepares to launch a three-pointer during Drexel’s Garden State Showcase at the Daskalakis Athletic Center Nov. 8-10. (Photograph courtesy of Gavin Baker)

The Drexel Dragons come into the 2019-20 season with high expectations for improvement after finishing the previous year with a 13-19 record. Analyst Matt Leon got to interview with Drexel’s Head Coach, Zach Spiker about his passion for coaching. The West Virginia native Head Coach looks forward to working with this talented roster in order to pursue a conference championship. 

“You love to see the growth and you love to see guys evolve and mature from making some silly freshman decisions to then having a voice and saying, ‘Don’t do that’,” Spiker said, “Those are things I like to see and you kind of sit back or you think, ‘Man, that guy’s moving in the right direction.’ So I love that…” 

Losing leading scorers, Guard Troy Harper and Alihan Demir, due to graduation is definitely unfortunate for the Dragons. Harper averaged 15.8 points last season and Demir had 14.8 with 93 assists and Harper with 65 assists. Fortunately, the team has many other players with great talent, opening more opportunities for the underclassmen to show
their skills. 

Freshman Forwards, Mate Okros and T.J. Bickerstaff both anticipate the upcoming season. Okros looks forward to showcasing his international talent, coming from Myerscough Basketball Academy in Preston, England. 

The British guard/forward, was the number one prospect coming out of the DENG top 50, a ranking by former NBA
star Luol Deng. Okros has participated as a starter in all three games so far this season and reached double figures with 11 points during their friday win against Niagara University. Mate also knocked down three three-pointers during the contest. 

Another rising star, Forward TJ Bickerstaff from Atlanta, GA, more specifically, Sandy Creek High School, is a great complement to Okros in the paint. Bickerstaff played four positions in highschool, making him a key utility tool. 

The Georgia Native was a 4A All-Region Five Player of the Year, a First Team All-State 4A selection and an Honorable Mention All-State pick throughout his high
school career. On top of these accomplishments, TJ had a total of 1,465 points at Sandy Creek. He has put up 16, 13, and 10 point stat lines in his first three games at Drexel. The freshman will play a vital role in the Dragons’ success. Improvement is a large part of the program’s goal this year. The team has been consistent in the losing column the last few years going 13-20 in the 2017-18 season and 13-19 in the 2018-19 season. Coach Spiker relies on upperclassmen Zach Walton and James Butler to lead the team this year. 

Both averaging around 10 points per game last year look to become even a bigger factor in winning this season. Drexel began their season at Temple University on November 5. Unfortunately, Drexel fell short of a win by eight points as the final score read, 70-62. However, the Dragons followed this game up with a victory against Niagara at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. 

James Butler scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. 

Drexel extended their winning ways by coming out on top of Abilene Christain University 86-83 with help of a game-winning three-point basket
by Zach Walton.

Drexel continues their season at Rutgers on Wednesday and at Stephen F. Austin State University on Saturday. Make sure to show out and support your Dragons as they push for a title in the Colonial Athletic Association this season!