Texas State junior forward Nate Martin (11) looks for an open pass around sophomore forward Brandon Love (24) during the first public men's basketball practice, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, at Strahan Arena. 

Texas State men’s basketball is poised to continue making school history, with 10 players returning from last season’s conference championship roster, an National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-American transfer and two note-worthy freshmen. The back-to-back Sun Belt regular season champs are locked and loaded for the 2022-23 basketball season.

Texas State is ranked second for the 2022-23 conference title in the Sun Belt Preseason Coaches Poll. The Bobcats only trailed in votes to first-place season favorite Louisiana. After defeating the Bobcats in last season’s conference tournament quarterfinals, the Ragin' Cajuns went on to make a run to the conference championship game, which Georgia State went on to win.

The climb to being a preseason favorite among the Sun Belt coaches is a major jump for Louisiana after finishing eighth in the conference last year with a record of 8-9. It could serve as extra fuel for the Bobcats this upcoming season while seeking their third straight regular season conference title.

“I’m feeling good for this season coming into another winning program,” senior guard Brandon Davis said. “I really expect to win games and make it to the tournament and prove people wrong that this school can be continuously at the top of the Sun Belt Conference.”

In the Sun Belt Preseason Coaches Poll, senior guard Mason Harrell was selected for the preseason All-Sun Belt First Team.

Two fifth-year seniors, forward Nighael Ceaser and Harrell look to lead the way of the winning culture set by head coach Terrence Johnson, who was named 2021-22 Sun Belt Coach of the Year. 

Harrell was the team's second-leading scorer and averaged 11.7 points, 3.1 assists and averaged 47.6% while shooting overall from the field. Harrell’s role will become imperative to the Bobcats' offense this season with the loss of guard Caleb Asberry, the dynamic scorer who announced he would be transferring to Oklahoma State in May. 

The Bobcats welcome Davis this season, a transfer from Loyola New Orleans, who will look to be a major force in the backcourt alongside Harrell.

Last season Davis led the Wolf Pack to its first NAIA National Championship in record-breaking fashion finishing with an overall record of 37-1. The 6-foot-1-inch guard averaged 14.7 points, 4.3 assists and 2.1 steals last season while shooting 44.1% and 41.0 % from beyond the arc. 

“His ability to knock down open shots and create for himself as well as others brings an added dynamic to our backcourt," Johnson said in a press release. “We're excited to add such a good player and exceptional person."

Rounding off the loaded roster for the Bobcats this season are freshmen small forward Davion Sykes and guard Jordan Mason. The Sykes name holds history at Texas State, as David Sykes, Davion’s father, finished playing at Texas State in 2003 and is the current record holder of career and single-season steals. 

Sykes hails from Texas 6A powerhouse Duncanville High School and was a key piece in its 2021-22 state championship run, which made him a four-time state champion. 

"It’s exactly why I chose this school. It has that winning culture,” Sykes said. “Seeing that it’s a good group of guys and that they win, I just wanted to join a winning program and be able to contribute.”

Sykes is accompanied by Mason from Clark High School in San Antonio, Texas. Mason averaged 23.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists in his senior season, ultimately being named 2022 District 28-6A MVP. 

With the addition of these two well-rounded freshmen, the Bobcats are primed to make noise in the Sun Belt this upcoming season with the possibility of a three-peat in sight.

Last season the Bobcats finished 21-8 overall with a Sun Belt Conference record of 12-3 and a nine-game winning streak to cap off its regular season. For the second year in a row, the postseason run of the Bobcats was short-lived, losing to Louisiana Lafayette 72-79 in the conference tournament quarterfinals. The postseason loss to Louisiana was an unexpected outcome for many as the Bobcats defeated the Ragin’ Cajuns in its conference matchups during the 2021-22 season.

Texas State men’s basketball will host Cameron University on at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at Strahan Arena in an exhibition matchup followed by the regular season opener versus Mid-America Christian on at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10 at Strahan Arena. 

The Bobcats will look to make school history once again, handle unfinished business and begin its road to a third straight Sun Belt Championship.

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