Central Michigan men's basketball opens practice Friday

Zach Libby, Staff Writer
Chippewa Country

Photo by CMUChippewas.com

Central Michigan officially began the 2017-18 season Friday by holding its first full practice. 42 days remain before the first game of the year at McGuirk Arena against Siena Heights on Nov. 10.

An exhibition with Northwood University is set to take place five days before the home opener.

The Chippewas welcome back three starters from last year in Josh Kozinski, Luke Meyer and Cecil Williams. The team finished 16-16 and were bounced out of the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament by eventual winner Kent State.

Guards Braylon Rayson and Marcus Keene have left for professional opportunities out of the country. Rayson recently signed with the Windsor Express of the National Basketball League of Canada earlier this month.

Keene is residing in Italy, playing for Cagliari Dinamo Academy of Serie A2, Italy’s second level of basketball and the highest amateur level in the country.

Keene, in his second year at Central Michigan, was the first player in Division I history since Long Island University’s Charles Jones in 1997 to score 30 points a game mark in a single season.

The San Antonio, Texas, native sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules, arriving from Youngstown State University.

Rayson is first all-time in CMU history in career three-pointers made (271) and attempted (768), sitting third in scoring with 1,885 total recorded points.

Expected to be the new faces of CMU's backcourt are transfers Shawn Roundtree and Gavin Peppers. Both joined the program this past spring and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Peppers sat out this past season with a medical redshirt at Cleveland State. He was enrolled at Laramie County Community College an Olympic College beforehand. At LCCC, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 18.7 points a game and hit 37 percent of his three-point attempts.

Roundtree was the first of the two to make it official in April. Arriving from Mineral Area College, where he earned All-Region honors from the National Junior College Athletic Association, the 6-foot-1 guard spent two years at Missouri State.

The non-conference schedule features eight home games, a trip to the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor against Michigan on Nov. 13 and the Great Alaska Shootout tournament.

Cal Poly, College of Charleston, Sam Houston State, Idaho, Santa Clara, CSU Bakersfield and Alaska Anchorage will all be at the annual showcase starting Nov. 22.

During MAC play, four of the first six games will be on the road for the Chippewas, with a back-to-back against the Golden Flashes and Eastern Michigan following their opener at home with Ohio.

Central Michigan only plays Akron, the conference regular-season champions, once this year and will host Western Michigan to conclude the schedule on March 2.

Head coach Keno Davis enters his sixth season with CMU. Having won two MAC West Division titles, the 45-year-old has accumulated an overall record of 74-82 and hasn't had a losing season since 2013-14.

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