Mercer men’s basketball team seeks improvement


Gazebo Photo by The Telegraph

 The community in Macon revolves around many things, including downtown, the Cherry Blossom Festival, and of course, Mercer University. With the basketball season about to kick off, the Macon community will start packing into Hawkins Arena where the Mercer Bears call home. 

This season, Mercer has 14 players on their men’s basketball team. Head Coach Greg Gary is assisted by Coaches Bobby Kummer, Kim Lewis, and DJ Byrd. Mercer will play 32 games this season: 15 will be home games and 18 will be Southern Conference games.

The Bears opened the season Tuesday night losing to Arkansas, 74- 61. The home opener is against Life University on November 16th at 7:00.             

The Mercer men’s basketball team has shown commitment and excellence over the past few seasons. In 2020-21, the men’s basketball team placed second in the Southern Conference Tournament. The Bears have a strong chance this season to win the Southern Conference championship for the first time. “Hopefully we come in first, but some of that depends on a little luck and with keeping players healthy,” Assistant Coach Bobby Kummer said. 

In order to finish strong, Mercer has to win against traditional powerhouses in the SoCon. “We are going to be good, along with Chattanooga, Furman, East Tennessee State, and Wofford, but in order to beat these teams and come in first, we have to play and practice every night, especially when going on the road,” Coach Kummer said. 

This season, Mercer has a talented lineup of players. Neftali Alverez and Felipe Haase will make Mercer a better basketball team and will play a pivotal role if Mercer is to win the SoCon championship. “Felipe and Neftali are huge for the team. They have a very good basketball IQ. They understand what we are trying to do, and they have been on the team for two years now so we are counting on them a lot this season,” commented Kummer. 

Mercer has also acquired two talented and athletic transfers that have a high chance of being superb this season: Jalen Johnson is a graduate student and Shawn Walker, Jr. is a junior. According to Coach Kummer, “Jalen Johnson is a 6’6 guard, a super kid, he shoots the ball at a high level, and he is very athletic. He will have one year with us. Shawn Walker, Jr. is a 6’6 guard and another great player. He will have three years with us and I believe he will have an outstanding career at Mercer.”

Mercer has been invited to a holiday tournament in Mexico this November called the Cancún Challenge. At this event, eight NCAA Division I teams travel to Cancún and compete in a three-day tournament. The Cancún Challenge is split up into two divisions consisting of four teams. These divisions are called the Mayan and the Riviera. Mercer is excited to play in this event as part of the Mayan Division. “It’s a fun setting, it’s going to be very competitive, but hopefully, we can win a couple of games out there and the guys will have a good time,” Coach Kummer said.