Coming off of a 28-win season, John Brown University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Jason Beschta announced eight newcomers to his 2020 recruiting class on July 22. This class includes seven prep student-athletes and one transfer. The class heavily consists of players hailing from the Lone Star State with six of the eight players in the recruiting class coming from Texas.
Coach Beschta, entering his seventh season as head coach, said of this class: “I think we’ve done a really good job figuring out what we need here in order to be successful, not only in terms of wins on the court, but in getting guys who are the right fit for our team, for our culture within the team and for JBU as a whole. I think the better we do at that, the better our team tends to do.”
Newcomers made up a large portion of Beschta’s rotation last season, with transfer Kiree Hutchings serving as the “sixth man” for the Golden Eagles as the top player outside of the starting five. Hutchings was both a threat on offense and defense, finishing fifth on the team in points per game and third in steals. Nemanja Obradovic and James Beckom were also two players who received key minutes off the bench for JBU as freshmen last season. Obradovic was the top big man behind Quintin Bailey and Densier Carnes, while Beckom quickly emerged as one of the team’s better defensive threats. Adam Asgeirsson also received playing time in 27 games as a freshman, being used primarily as a three-point threat, where he shot at 42% beyond the arc last season.
When looking at this year’s class, Beschta sees players who can make an immediate impact in the same way as last year’s newcomers. He mentioned transfer D.J. Ellis as a player who could step in and make plays immediately, saying that Ellis “brings us another playmaker off the dribble. I think he can do so many things that fits in with his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands and push it. It allows us to be more up-tempo with our style of play, and coming in already having college experience is going to be big for him.”
Beschta also mentioned Noah Taylor and Caleb Ceasar as some Golden Eagles to be on the lookout for. “Noah Taylor was a guy that led the country in three-pointers made in high school, and he can fire it from deep. Even better than just that, he comes in as a freshman and is a loud voice. To have that kind of confidence as a freshman is awesome. Caleb Ceasar is a 6’6” guard with such skills and a sweet stroke from outside. He’s got length and athletic ability. The more I see him, the more I get excited about what he has the potential to do.”
“I feel so blessed to be a member of the JBU basketball program. I really feel like I am part of a family who wants to improve on their game together,” Taylor said. “The coaches are always willing to help and the transition from high school to college has been way better than expected.”
There’s a lot to be excited about with this recruiting class, though fans won’t get to see them hit the court until January. The university increased the allowed size of team practices on the week of Sept. 21, as part of a graduated plan, though they aren’t allowed to have full team practices yet. The team is currently scheduled to play 14 conference games starting on Jan. 9.
“Anything that we had in the first semester is gone. We were going to play UNT Dallas, which was going to be nice because they’re joining the league next year. In light of that, everybody’s just re-doing schedules if they’re going to play this semester,” Beschta said. He added, “For us, we’re waiting to hear from the NAIA on minimums (the minimum amount of games required for postseason eligibility). We’re waiting to hear ‘do we need to get more games?’, which could be hard to fit in during that stretch, or are they going to lower the minimums?”
The postponement, Coach Beschta said, didn’t come as a surprise, and it just makes the team hungrier than ever to return to the NAIA tournament.
“They’re disappointed, but our guys that are returners who are setting the tone for us, along with me as the returning coach, are so hungry from last year where we had the season ended without being able to finish and go to the national tournament, that they’re hungry just to get back and get after it, and if that means waiting until January, they’re still salivating and just ready to go,” Beschta said.
“For me, personally, the postponement of the season was expected. With so much going on in the world right now and with COVID still here, I did not have much hope that we would have a season this fall,” Taylor said. “The team has improved every week through our workouts, but it has been an interesting adjustment to following protocols. We will be very prepared, willing and eager to win once our season finally starts.”
Photo: Caleb Hall, The Threefold Advocate