Following a rough patch in the early stages of the men's basketball season in which it lost three of four games after starting undefeated, junior guard Caleb Asberry has emerged as a rising star for the Bobcats since he was inserted into the starting lineup.
Boasting a 10-3 record since the insertion of Asberry, the Bobcats are now building serious momentum while in the thick of in-conference play.
In his 13 starts this season, Asberry is averaging 15.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game, all of which are above his season averages on the year. After leading the Bobcats to back-to-back wins against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Asberry was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week on Jan. 18.
"I feel like I bring a high level of energy on the court, and I play with a lot of emotion," Asberry says. "I bring scoring; I can get guys going. I was putting in work extra this year, and I never put my head down."
Before the Bobcats were jockeying for first place in the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference, they hit a rough patch to begin the year. Starting 2-0, the Bobcats followed that up with losses in three out of their next four games by an average margin of 13 points.
It was in the following game, on Dec. 15 against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, where Asberry was put into the starting lineup to replace the injured graduate guard Marlin Davis. He went on to play 30 minutes for the 'Cats, scoring 15 points on 58.3% shooting and grabbing three rebounds.
It was the first start of the season for Asberry, which paid dividends for the Bobcats as he has emerged as one of the top role players and impactful scorers on the floor on a night-to-night basis.
Since Asberry's first start, the team has gone 10-3, catapulting the program to an overall record of 13-6 and a first-place standing in the West Division of the Sun Belt.
As a senior in high school, Asberry stood 6 feet and 155 pounds. Playing on the varsity team as a freshman, his versatility and willingness to embrace a role that was foreign to him was appreciated by coaches and teammates.
David Raigosa, head basketball coach at Pflugerville High School, says Asberry's athleticism allowed him to play multiple positions on the court.
"He was very thin, but he was very bouncy,” Raigosa says. “Even in his junior year, that year we had a lot of guards and there were times he played the four for us. He spent a lot of time defending players that were much bigger than he was and took that task without question. He was so versatile for us. Willing to play anything and everything.”
In high school, Asberry averaged double digits in points since his sophomore season. As a senior, Asberry averaged 19.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and was named the District 13-6A Offensive MVP for the 2017-18 season.
Despite a productive senior campaign, Asberry did not receive as many scholarship offers as he hoped for. Instead, he would play his freshman season at Ranger College, a junior college in Ranger, Texas.
Regardless of the setback, Asberry believed he had the ability and the resources to eventually play at a Division I program.
“I felt like I was a D1 athlete; I’ve always felt that way," Asberry says. "But going to JUCO, going to Ranger, I knew my coach, [Billy Gillispie], would get me ready to go D1. It gave me a chance to get looked at, and I took it very seriously. I was never going to settle.”
In his lone-season at Ranger College, Asberry averaged 10.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, and shot 43.6% from beyond the arc. He parlayed his performance into a commitment at Texas State.
In his sophomore season and first as a Bobcat, Asberry did not see consistent minutes on the floor. With players like eventual all-time leading scorer Nijal Pearson locking down the guard spots, Asberry had to fight his way into receiving consistent playing time that year.
“Keeping my focus was tough at times because I’m used to playing a lot, but seeing us win encouraged me to keep trying harder," Asberry says. "That’s why I didn’t get down on myself. I realized I had a chance to do something at Texas State, and I always felt like I was going to make an impact at this school.”
To begin this season, Asberry continued to play inconsistent minutes. There was not a true outline for what his role would be, but Interim Head Coach Terrence Johnson was not reluctant to give Asberry a shot.
“The starting lineup gives Caleb confidence; I think him being in the starting lineup gives him clarity and trust," Johnson says. "He gives us playmaking ability and finds ways to make plays. He gives us a weapon offensively, and he’s really important for what we’re trying to do. We want him to continue to grow and develop and be apart of this process.”
Johnson believes Asberry's acceptance of his role, despite uncertain playing time, has benefited the team atmosphere.
“I think right now, for this team buying into your role is most important for this team," Johnson says. "We spoke with Caleb and went over his role and he agreed to it. That’s been the most important part for this team and stuff like that can feed into your locker room.”
With a .769 winning percentage since the Pflugerville native entered the starting lineup, the locker room, as well as the on-court product, has improved. What has been deemed the “Asberry effect”, the Bobcats' numbers have spiked since his arrival into the starting-five.
His shooting efficiency has not regressed despite the increase of volume; he is collectively shooting 52.4% from the field, 46.5% from beyond the arc and 79.4% from the charity stripe since becoming a starter.
In the five games before the insertion of Asberry, the Bobcats averaged 61.8 points per game. The Bobcats are now averaging 66.3 points per game while holding opposing teams to 61.2 points per game, 1.2 points less than their season average.
Asberry’s play coupled with the team's success has been something he always believed he had in him. He says he is still set on working to improve the program throughout the remainder of his time at Texas State.
“I will never feel complacent, I’ll always feel like I have to do better," Asberry says. "I’m going to do my best to continue to put it that work and grind it out. I know we’re going to do something big this year and I’m super ready.”