LMU Men’s Basketball 2019-20: Swingmen

Published 3:33 pm Thursday, October 24, 2019

HARROGATE, Tenn. — A big part of perennial power Lincoln Memorial University men’s basketball is its swing players, or swingmen, who can play both the shooting guard and small forward positions. Thankfully for the Railsplitters, four of the team’s top five returning scorers are swingmen.

Once again in 2019-20, LMU will depend on its swingmen to provide both stalwart defense and prolific scoring. A trio of 2018-19 All-South Atlantic Conference performers are back for the Railsplitters, in addition to junior guard Alex Dahling, sophomore forward/guard Xavier Bledson, redshirt freshman MJ Armstrong and redshirt junior Devin Whitfield.

“We have some swings that we’re really excited about,” head coach Josh Schertz said. “We’ll sometimes play three or four swings together, because that’s probably our deepest position.”

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A Railsplitter veteran, redshirt senior guard/forward Kamaran Calhoun will be one LMU leans on and looks to for leadership this season after garnering All-SAC honorable mention accolades a year ago.

“Kamaran Calhoun has now been here for five years and like a lot of our guys do, came in as an entry level guy and now he’s a CEO,” commented coach Schertz. “Kam has really seen it all and I’ve challenged him and the rest of our returners to lead well and set a great example. He’s been to the national championship, he’s been to multiple Final Fours, he’s played on the No. 1 team in the country and won multiple regular season titles.”

As a redshirt junior, Calhoun led the team in rebounding (6.7 RPG) and averaged 10.9 points per game as the Railsplitters’ third-leading scorer. He ranked second in the league in field goal percentage (59%) of those who met the minimums and was sixth in the SAC in rebounding. Defensively, Calhoun totaled 26 steals and provided 25 blocks, while leading LMU in both free-throw attempts (172) and makes (123). He is also the Railsplitters’ second-leading returning assist man, dishing out 63 helpers last season.

“He’s got great perspective, he’s a guy that gets everything out of his ability,” Schertz continued. “I don’t know if we’ve ever had a guy any tougher or any smarter than Kam, and he’s a winner.”

Sophomore guard Courvoisier McCauley, one of two SAC All-Freshman performers for LMU in 2018-19, will be even better this season after averaging near double-figure scoring (9.8 PPG). A threat from outside, McCauley hit 58 treys a season ago for the second-most of returning Railsplitters and connected on .377 of his three-point attempts.

“Courvoisier McCauley is one of those players we’re excited about,” Schertz spoke. “A light came on for him towards the end of the year and he averaged about 16 points a game over the last seven or eight contests, really playing about as well as anybody on our team as he transitioned into a starter. He’s improved as much from one year to another as anybody we’ve had. He’s much more efficient and committed on both ends and we think he can have a really special year.”

Reaching double figures in eight of the final nine games of 2018-19, McCauley scored 197 of his 285 points in the last 15 games of the season.

Also a SAC All-Freshman honoree last year, sophomore guard Cameron Henry is LMU’s third-leading returning scorer (10.4 PPG) and second-leading returning rebounder (5.6 RPG). No Railsplitter returner made more steals than Henry (30) last year as he led the team in defensive rebounding with 138 (4.9 RPG).

“Cameron Henry averaged over 10 points and nearly six rebounds as another true freshman last year,” remarked Schertz. “He is very much like the glue that holds everything together. He can do everything as a shooter and defender, he’s a terrific rebounder and strong finisher, and he impacts the game in a tremendous amount of areas. That’s what the best players do.”

Henry ranked 15th in the SAC in total rebounding last season and was fifth in defensive rebounding.

One of LMU’s top five returning scorers, Dahling averaged nearly nine points a game in 2018-19 (8.8 PPG) and was one of the Railsplitters’ most lethal three-point shooters. Making 68 three-pointers a year ago and ranking seventh in the league in percentage (41.7%) and eighth in makes per game (2.4), Dahling is LMU’s top returning long-distance shooter.

“Alex Dahling was another productive swing last year,” Schertz said. “He made around 70 three’s at a little over 40 percent and he did so while battling a foot injury. He looks significantly improved after having surgery in the offseason and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”

“Alex is one of the best shooters, not only in the league but in the entire country,” added Schertz. “He has range that spans near 27 feet away from the basket and can consistently make them. His presence on the floor creates unbelievable space for his teammates to operate and he is as hard a worker as we have had in the program.”

Bledson, another returning swing player who lettered in 2018-19, started three games and saw the court for action in 20 contests as a true freshman. Averaging 9.3 minutes a game, Bledson scored 58 points and collected 59 rebounds while making 14 assists, grabbing seven steals and blocking a pair of shots. At 6-foot-6, Bledson will make an even larger impact during his second collegiate season.

Whitfield, who had to sit out last year after transferring to Harrogate from fellow NCAA Division II member Trevecca Nazarene in Nashville, will most likely play a key role for the Railsplitters in 2019-20.

“Devin Whitfield had a great two-year run at Trevecca Nazarene,” spoke Schertz. “He averaged basically around 20 points a game as a sophomore and better than seven rebounds, while leading them in assists as well. He’s a guy whose effort level is through the roof. Nobody I’ve coached has a higher motor than Devin. He just plays unbelievably hard on every possession.

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds during the 2017-18 season, not to mention handing out 88 assists while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 46.9 percent from deep. Whitfield scored 907 points, collected 299 rebounds and recorded 152 assists in two seasons for the Trojans.

“We’ve had a great track record with players transferring in from the Division II ranks,” continued Schertz. “In terms of his talent and ability, as he acclimates to a new system and gets comfortable, we think the sky is the limit for him.”

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2018-19, 6-foot-3 guard Armstrong will be available to contribute as LMU has one swing newcomer in freshman guard Luke Bartemes, a native of Dublin, Ohio (Dublin Coffman HS).

Already gaining national attention in the preseason, the Railsplitters are a top-10 pick by both Street & Smith’s and Division II Bulletin. LMU returns nearly 75 percent of its scoring from last season, over 72 percent of its rebounding and nearly 76 percent of its assists.