Basketball Season Gears Up at UVa-Wise for November Start

Preview of the Men and Women’s Basketball teams before the season kicks off.

Men’s Basketball

The Mountain East Conference’s head coaches have voted on the results for the MEC and UVa-Wise was picked to finish 12th in the conference.

The Cavs are returning only two starters from last season. There are no seniors on this year’s squad, but there are seven newcomers including five freshmen.

Of the returning players, the two starters are junior point guard Ricardo Hill, Jr. and redshirt-sophomore forward Dmitri Sousa. Hill was second on the team last year in assists per game with 3.5. Sousa averaged 14.9 points per game last season and finished with a 49.3 percentage from the field.

Three letterwinners returning for the Cavs are Corey Dick, Leandro Amador and DeMarcus Edwards. After redshirting last season, Darren Belardo and Desmon Shaver are looking to contribute this season. The two transfers added to the roster this season are Taiwo Badmus (London, England) and Ethan Driskill (Ringgold, Virginia).

Of the freshmen, three are guards and two are forwards. The additions include Michal Seals, Chance Sheffey, Tajh Eason, Michael Osborne and Yesid Masquera-Perea.

When asked what his expectations are for the upcoming season, Coach Blake Mellinger said, “I just want us to get better every single day and for us to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year when the tournament rolls around.”

“We’ve got multiple guys who can score the ball and multiple guys who can defend multiple positions,” Mellinger said when asked what one of the team’s biggest strengths would be going forward.

The Cavs will begin their season on November 11 in Institute, West Virginia at the Earl Lloyd Classic.

Women’s Basketball

The UVa-Wise women’s basketball team has been selected to finish 10th in a preseason poll by head coaches in the Mountain East Conference.

Fairmont State was chosen to finish first in the MEC out of the 12 teams. Fairmont was award 118 total points in the voting while UVa-Wise earned 45.

UVa-Wise will return three starters from last season in which they won 13 games. The three returning starters are also the three seniors on the team.

Senior point guard Taylor Sandidge returns for her senior campaign after gathering 1,010 points over her first three seasons. Last season, Sandidge averaged 13.3 points per game and 35.2 minutes per game.

Another starter heading into her senior season will be Kayla Carey. The forward averaged six rebounds per game along with 12.3 points per game. Carey is expected to reach the 1,000 point plateau this season as she enters with 862 career points.

Rounding out the seniors for the Cavs is Makenzie Cluesman. Cluesman made 41 shots from beyond the arc while averaging 9.7 points per game. Like Carey, Cluesman is expected to reach 1,000 points as she enters with a respectable 874 points.

Coach Kristin Kunzman spoke highly of the three seniors when she said, “They’ve stood out on the floor pretty consistently. We’re looking for big things from them this year and excited that they’re all seniors and able to play together.”

Other returning players include junior Allison Ball and sophomores Alle Moore, Dakotah Turner, Adalmaryz Rivera-Gomez and Ashley Cullen.

When asked what her expectations were for the upcoming season, Kunzman said, “We want to be in the top half of the conference and we want to be able to make a statement.”

“I think competing every day is something that we talk about whether it’s in practice or in games, we want to compete with every team that we play,” Kunzman added.

UVa-Wise will open their season on November 11 at Shippensburg University and will host their home opener on November 16 against Winston-Salem State.

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