Sophomore duo expected to lead men’s basketball at the point

Media Credit: Courtesy of the GW Athletic Department

Sophomore guards James Bishop and Jameer Nelson Jr. will take over this season from guard Armel Potter, who graduated last season after topping 1,000 career points.

Two sophomores will be tasked with bringing the ball up this season, and the Colonials’ floor general will be amply supported with at least three other depth options.

Sophomore guards James Bishop and Jameer Nelson Jr. will be expected to handle the ball this season, head coach Jamion Christian said. He added that the duo on the floor together would be a “tough” matchup for opponents, pointing to their scoring and team leadership ability.

“They’ve been tremendous,” Christian said. “They’re building up with their teammates and understanding their teammates’ needs at the right time. Those are really special qualities that a great point guard has to have.”

Christian added that he wanted a point guard with “complete confidence,” and he wanted his floor general to understand his role on the team and build up the players around him, leading him to eye Bishop and Nelson Jr.

“On the floor, we want a guy who’s exciting to watch – a guy that gives me confidence that we can go isolation basketball with them, or they can make a play out of nothing,” he said.

Last season’s go-to floor general, guard Armel Potter, graduated in 2020, requiring the team to find another ball handler. He ended his college basketball career with a bang, reaching 1,000 career points, averaging a team-leading 14.7 points and 5.75 assists per game.

Christian said he expects Bishop, a transfer from LSU, to be one of the players to step up and lead the team on the offensive end. Bishop played 16 games off the bench for the Tigers, averaging 0.6 assists and 3.1 points per game. He netted his season highs of 11 points and four helpers in nonconference play.

“He’s got the chance to be a really good player for us,” Christian said. “The high efficiency I’ve always looked for, those guys are exciting for you. I think his ability to create for others and create for himself, I think really fits.”

Bishop said he will emphasize perimeter shooting, as well as leadership and playmaking abilities to both ends of the court in his first year as Colonial. He added that the transition to GW was “easy” because he clicked with his teammates.

“It’s been easy playing with these guys,” Bishop said. “You pass it to them, they hit shots. When you dunk it down to them, they finish at the rim. It’s been easy and they allow me to be a leader on the floor, so that helps even more.”

Another option at the point is Nelson Jr. He gained ball handling experience his freshman season, earning a spot in the starting rotation. He was a consistent scorer, averaging 10.4 points a contest and dishing out 68 helpers on the year.

Nelson Jr. said his experience handling the ball last season was a “stepping stone” in his basketball development. He said he’s seen improvement between this preseason and last season in his decision-making and shooting capabilities.

“As a point guard, it’s just getting the reads right and knowing when to go to the rim and when to know it’s not time to do that,” he said. “Then I think my shot has gotten better. Over the summer, I really worked on that.”

Christian said Nelson Jr. is the “most underrated player in the Atlantic 10,” adding that his snub from the All-Rookie Team was “disrespectful.” He said Nelson Jr. is on his way to be a dynamic player on the hardwood.

“Everything I’m seeing on the floor right now, he’s only gotten better,” Christian said. “And I think that’s going to be scary. And I think he is a guy you don’t want to give a chip on his shoulder. And I definitely feel like there’s a level of disrespect for his game.”

Christian said three players – graduate student forward Matt Moyer, graduate student guard Brandon Leftwich and freshman guard Tyler Brelsford – could see time at the point position too.

Chrisitian said Moyer, who transferred from Vanderbilt, will play at every position for the Colonials and has been “great” with the ball in his hands. Moyer averaged 12.2 minutes, two points and 0.2 assists per contest with the Commodores last season.

Leftwich, a Mount Saint Mary’s product who played under Christian when he coached for the Mount, is also trusted to bring the ball up the floor. Christian said his knowledge of the team’s systems and style of play gives him experience at the position.

Brelsford, the youngest option for the Colonials, could also get reps this year. He averaged 14.6 points and five assists his senior year at Mount Saint Joseph. Christian said he is a “dynamic” player with a “tremendous feel” to get the ball to his teammates.

Sophomore forward Jamison Battle said GW has “a lot of diversity” at the point position, and multiple teammates will be expected to step in and take care of the ball.

“There’s some people with experience and some people who are just coming in,” Battle said. “I think it’s going to be nice to have a lot of different types of looks. Jameer can play one and two. Matt can play cover. James can play one and two. I think you’re going to see a lot of different people bringing the ball up.”

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