Kent State Tuscarawas basketball team finishes historic regular season

Trent Blackburn , Reporter

Kent State Tuscarawas’ basketball team has reached the end of a regular season where it set a program record for wins and set a milestone by making the national tournament.

The Golden Eagles, in just their fifth full season in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, continued to build on their yearly improvement to become one of the most competitive teams in Division II. Division II of the USCAA consists of 44 teams. The Golden Eagles are currently ranked seventh in the USCAA Coaches’ Poll.

“Our first season in the USCAA we went 0-21, and we only had six players,” head coach Richard Tharp said. “Then you fast forward it to our fifth full season this year … to be ranked as high as third in the nation.”

Tharp credited the team’s commitment to representing the school and itself in the best way possible as a part of the team’s success.

“Even before the season, everybody came here with the mindset of ‘I’m going to work;’ nobody felt entitled,” junior guard London Cobbs, who is the team’s leading scorer, said. “Even the returners were putting in just as much work as the newcomers. I think we just all came with the mindset that we’re only going to achieve that goal if we work hard.”

The Golden Eagles have a 17-8 record this season, with their final game on Feb. 26. The team’s commitment at all levels helped bring more success this year.

“I would say even though some of us are older and have played for a few years, the older guys learn just as much from the young guys as they do from us,” junior forward Kameron Shockley said. “Everyone brings a different perspective of the game and have different experiences throughout their basketball career, so I think we learn from each other whether you’re a freshman or senior.”

The Golden Eagles have received an invitation to the USCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

“A lot of people might look at it and don’t know what the USCAA is, or not really familiar with it,” Cobbs said. “We might not get the same exposure, but as far as the work and competition, night in and night out, it doesn’t matter what the team record is or where they’re from.”

Tuscarawas will play its first tournament game against Southwestern Adventist University of Dallas on Mar. 7 at Virginia State University in Richmond.

“Everybody’s there to compete,” Cobbs said. “It’s a battle.”

Trent Blackburn is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].