Featuring three returning starters and bringing back six letterwinners from a year ago, the Cal Poly men’s basketball program officially opens practice for the 2019-20 season under first-year head coach John Smith on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 3 p.m.
The Mustangs, who welcomed four new additions and activated four redshirts during the offseason, will enjoy 32 days of preparation prior to the program’s Friday, Nov. 8 season opener at Santa Clara. Previously, Cal Poly was allowed 10 days of practice in August prior to the team’s Sept. 1-9 four-game tour of London.
Comprising Cal Poly’s returning unit is 6-4 guard Job Alexander, 6-10 senior forward Hank Hollingsworth and 6-5 junior wing Mark Crowe. Alexander started Cal Poly’s final 11 games of last season and scored in double figures five times a year ago. Hollingsworth, a career 59.1 percent shooter, requires just 24 more blocks to overtake the program record of 136 established by Varnie Dennis (2000-04). Crowe, who started 28 of 29 games last season, recorded 17 double-digit scoring games and ranked 41st among NCAA Division I players with a 40.8 percent three-point mark.
Cal Poly’s remaining returning letterwinners include sophomore guards Junior Ballard and Jared Rice and 6-10 sophomore forward Tuukka Jaakkola. Ballard was averaging 5.1 points per game last year before sustaining a season-ending injury after 15 appearances. Rice made 17 appearances during his first season last year while Jaakkola shot 63.3 percent during his initial year on campus.
Making their debuts in the Mustang lineup this winter will be junior 6-7 junior forward Nolan Taylor, 6-0 junior guard Keith Smith, 6-6 freshman forward Kyle Colvin and 6-3 guard Colin McCarthy – all of whom redshirted their first seasons on campus last year.
During the offseason, Cal Poly added two graduate transfers in 6-5 wing Malek Harwell and 6-3 guard Jamal Smith. As a junior at Boise State last season, Harwell appeared in 32 of 33 games and shot 81.6 percent from the foul line. Smith, son of head coach John Smith, appeared in all 34 of Cal State Fullerton’s games last year after helping the Titans to the 2018 Big West Conference Tournament title.
Signing National Letters of Intent in the offseason and set to debut for the Mustangs are 6-5 guard Colby Rogers (Covington, GA / Roselle Catholic HS-N.J.) and 6-8 forward Alimamy Koroma (Freetown, Sierra Leone / Prolific Prep Academy-Calif.).
Cal Poly supporters will receive their first look at the team on Saturday, Oct. 12 as the program hosts its first Mustang Basketball Fan Fest at 5 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center. The Fan Fest will include a dunk contest, three-point contest, two-ball contest and an intersquad game.
-Provided by Cal Poly