Humboldt State men’s basketball adds D-I talent, begins 2019-20 campaign Friday

Three senior transfers look to lead the 'Jacks

Humboldt State’s Jackson Strong returns to Humboldt for his second year with the ‘Jacks. Strong hit 89 3-pointers last season and earned All-CCAA honors. (Jose Quezada — For the Times-Standard)
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Three NCAA Division-I senior-transfers all hailing from Compton decided to reunite for their final collegiate season.

Humboldt State University men’s basketball will gladly play host.

The Lumberjacks open up the 2019-20 season on the road at Point Loma Nazarene University Friday night at 7:30 p.m. inside Golden Gymnasium.

The three senior transfers, Leland Green, Rob Lewis and Raysean Scott Jr., will be on the count for tip-off and look to be nightly starters for the ‘Jacks throughout the season.

All three bring D-I experience to Humboldt, injecting a big-time dose of veteran leadership into the ‘Jacks locker-room.

Green played his junior season at the of University of Hawaii at Manoa while Lewis joins the ‘Jacks by way of Texas Southern and Scott Jr., all the way from Florida Gulf Coast.

All three went to high school in Compton and played on AAU teams together.

Scott Jr. and Lewis both played for Compton High and led the team to its first league title in nearly a decade.

The trio will be inserted into a starting lineup led by Jackson Strong, a senior 3-point specialist who returns for his second season with Humboldt.

Strong led the ‘Jacks with 89 made 3-pointers last season and was named to the All-California Collegiate Athletic Association team.

On many nights, including Friday night, Arash Poorsina will fill out the ‘Jacks starting rotation. A 6-foot-10 junior transfer out of Saddleback College, Poorsina will look to help fill the void — especially on the glass — left by 2019 graduate and the ‘Jacks leading scorer and rebounder from a season ago, Justin Everett.

Isaiah Pope, a 6-foot-5 dynamic guard, is another player to keep an eye on this season. Pope, a freshman out of Orange Lutheran High, is a natural guard and will spend most of the season in the back-court. But the freshman can play most of positions on the court minus perhaps the five and will be a starter on some nights and a heavy rotation player on all the others.

“I like how fast we move on the break,” Pope said on Tuesday. “We have a lot of talented guards and a lot of dudes who can guard a lot of different positions.”

On being the lone freshman expected to play heavy minutes for the ‘Jacks and the only first-year expected to start this season, Pope said he’s “very humbled.”

Amari Green returns for his sophomore season and will garner considerable minutes off the bench this year. Green started 12 of 31 games during his freshman campaign and averaged 4 points and a shade under 1 steal per game on an average of 17 minutes a night.

Back for his 10th season as Humboldt’s head coach is Steve Kinder.

After a pair of losing seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18 the ‘Jacks returned somewhat to form a season ago and finished 17-14 overall and 11-11 in the CCAA, good enough for an eight-place finish and a birth in the conference tournament.

Humboldt State last qualified for the D-II West Region tournament at the end of the 2015-16 season, which was also the last time the ‘Jacks captured a CCAA tournament title.

Heading into another challenging preseason schedule, Kinder says his group is ready to go.

“We are fired up to get the season started,” Kinder said on Tuesday. “I believe we have a very talented team and a defense which can really contend.”

Looking at the schedule

Humboldt will spend the weekend in Southern California as it will take on Fresno Pacific at the same venue Saturday night.

The ‘Jacks will play its latter two of four preseason games at Lumberjack Arena on Nov. 13 and 16 against University of Antelope Valley and Pacific Union.

Humboldt opens CCAA play at home against Sonoma State on Nov. 21 and closes the regular season at home against Chico State on Nov. 27.

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