KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Roane State men’s basketball team will be getting a boost on offense next season after their second-highest scorer decided he will play for the Raiders for another year.
The point guard started in every game last season, averaging 15.2 points per game. Naylor shot 42% percent from field goal range and 34.4% from beyond the arc.
The Kentucky native’s performance on the court last season got him looks from several schools including NAIA programs closer to home and the University of West Alabama in DII. Despite the offers, Naylor decided he is sticking with Roane State.
“A lot of thought and prayer that went into the decision,” says Naylor, “I figured it would be best to stay a second year to see how much more I could grow as a player under Coach Nesbitt and just grow as a person. As well and see what other schools I can get offers from to continue this journey.”
Standing at 5’11”, height may not be an advantage, but Naylor gets creative with his shot.
“I love to shoot the ball and get creative in the lane,” says Naylor, “Finding ways to get open and working hard. It’s diving on the loose ball to get one then I’m going to dive. Whatever it is to help my team.”
Raiders assistant coach Alan Holt noticed Naylor’s talent after seeing him play in high school. Holt recalls Naylor as a sophomore, being “the smallest player on the floor,” alongside a talented teammate who was being recruited by DI schools. However, Naylor “stood out just as much as anyone on the floor” as he had an “it factor about him.”
Now coaching the 19-year-old at Roane State, Holt says working with Naylor has been a blessing.
“He’s always on top of everything. He’s a perfectionist if he’s making mistakes, he knows he’s making mistakes and he’s doing anything he can to correct them,” Holt said.
When it comes to his game, Holt says Naylor is competitive and savvy, his basketball IQ sets him apart on the court.
Another factor that played into his decision to stay at Roane State is the other extracurricular activities he is involved in on campus. Besides being a student-athlete, Naylor is also a student ambassador for the Roane State Foundation—a nonprofit that helps students with scholarships and other needs. He is also an active member of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Roane State.
Naylor also enjoys the “small town” feel about the campus in Harriman, Tennessee.
All factors that will keep him on the court as a Raider this upcoming season.
“Being under a great coaching relationship is going to be a huge thing in my next step in my next school so just finding a great fit for me for the next school I’m going to attend then we’ll go from there.”
COVID-19 delaying some on-campus practice points
Normally, the returning players would have been on campus during June doing summer school and working out and the freshmen would be heading to campus now to begin workouts.
Instead, Naylor has been at home in Kentucky enjoying extra time with his family and getting reps in with a hoop at home.
Holt says they hope to welcome back student-athletes in the next couple of weeks to begin working out and preparing for next season, whatever it may look like.
Holt says they are hearing some possible schedule changes that include limiting non-conference contests with a limit on how far they can travel—but nothing is set in stone just yet.
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