As the winningest senior class in Murray State basketball history prepares to shake President Randy Dunn’s hand just more than a month from now, Head Coach Steve Prohm and his staff are hard at work attempting to fill the large shoes soon to be left behind.
Assuming no current players transfer or leave the program, and soon-to-be junior guard Zay Jackson returns from his season-long suspension, the Racers had five open spots to fill with freshmen, transfers or junior college players.
Prohm has already filled three of the spots with freshmen Cameron Payne and Jarvis Williams and incoming sophomore transfer T.J. Sapp. Another spot may soon be taken by junior college transfer Jonathan Augustin-Fairell, a 6-foot-6-inch center out of Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Fla., who verbally committed to the Racers last weekend.
If Fairell does sign with Murray State this leaves Prohm with just one more spot to fill. It will likely be a guard, as Prohm said earlier he would like to have eight guards and five forwards going into next season. The commitment of Fairell gives Prohm his desired fifth forward, and leaves the Racers with one more spot to add an eighth and final guard.
As the familiar faces of years past continue to be replaced by young up-and-comers, The News will take a moment to familiarize you with some of the new faces you’ll see on the court next season wearing the blue and gold.
Cameron Payne – Guard
A 6-foot-2-inch guard out of Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tenn., Payne signed with the Racers in November and will be a freshman at Murray State in the fall. The highlight of the recruiting class, Payne averaged 22 points and four assists per game during his junior year.
As a senior he led his class to the division 2A Tennessee State Championship and was awarded the Tennessee Mr. Basketball award. Payne is a proven scorer who can hit outside shots and plays at an extremely quick tempo. Payne will fight for a spot in the starting lineup or off the bench, and will work to help replace the void left by Isaiah Canaan’s departure.
“We’re really excited to get Cameron into the Racer Basketball family,” Prohm told the Sports Information Department. “Cameron has been a priority since day one. He’s crafty and has a high skill level. Defensively he’s long and with the way we want to play, he’ll fit in really well and have a chance to have an impact as a freshman.”
Jarvis Williams – Forward
Standing at 6 foot 8 inches, Williams will help make up for the loss of senior big men Ed Daniel, Brandon Garrett and Latreze Mushatt. Spending the last two seasons at Gordon State College in Barnesville, Ga., Williams was named a Junior College All-American after his freshman year and averaged a double-double with 20 points and 10.4 rebounds this season as a sophomore. After briefly committing to the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB), Williams signed with the Racers in November. He will be a junior in the fall and will bring some much-needed experience to what will be an extremely young Racer team.
“We’re losing Ed Daniel after this season, so we wanted to bring in an experienced guy like Jarvis,” Prohm told the Sports Information Department. “He brings the same kind of intangibles that Ed possesses. He’s a great athlete, with a great motor who is a shot-blocker and can score around the basket.”
T.J. Sapp – Guard
Heavily recruited by Murray State out of high school, T.J. Sapp eventually committed to Clemson in the spring of 2011. After playing in all of the Tigers’ games as a freshman, and making six starts as a sophomore, Sapp decided it was time for a change of scenery after receiving less playing time than desired.
After visiting both Wyoming and Murray State, Sapp became a Racer in January and enrolled in classes and began practicing with the team. Eligible to play after final exams end in December, Sapp will likely have a chance to crack the starting lineup just in time for the Racers’ conference schedule to begin next winter. The 6-foot-3-inch guard will likely fill the role vacated by Stacy Wilson, and looks to form an exciting duo with fellow junior guard Zay Jackson in the Racers’ backcourt next December.
“I can honestly say it feels great to be a part of Murray State,” Sapp said. “It’s a great environment and the people really embrace the program. It feels great just to be a part of a school that is a basketball school. It feels good to feel like you are really important to the whole city and the whole school.”
Though not officially signed, Fairell verbally committed to Murray State last weekend, transferring from Indian River State College. As a sophomore this season, Fairell was fourth in the nation in rebounding with 11.8 per game, while leading his team in scoring with an average of 17.7 points and shooting an impressive 67 percent from the field. Standing at 6 foot 6 inches, Fairell is similar to senior Latreze Mushatt, and could fill his role as a smaller versatile forward. Joining the Racers as a junior in the fall, Fairell will join Williams as the lone upper-classman forward.
Story by Jonathan Ferris, Staff writer.