DAYTONA BEACH — With four players from Ryan Ridder’s first Daytona State basketball team now on NCAA Division I rosters, the Falcons are rebuilding again.
But they are rebuilding with a group so talented that coaches have ranked them 10th in the NJCAA preseason national poll.
“I don’t know where they’re getting that from,” joked second-year coach Ridder, who knows exactly where they’re getting that from.
“We have a lot of length and a lot of athleticism,” Ridder said. “We’re pretty deep this year. We have 12 guys who can legitimately play minutes for us.”
The Falcons begin their season at 7 Friday night against Southeastern Illinois College in the Daytona State Tip Off Classic at the Lemerand Center. They will close the classic at 4 p.m. Saturday against Clinton Junior College of Rock Hill, South Carolina.
DSC returns leading scorer Tanksley Efianayi, who recently chose to continue his career next season at UCF over offers from Arizona State and St. John’s. The 6-foot-6 swingman averaged 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds for a Falcons’ team that finished 24-6 last season.
“He’ll definitely be the go-to guy down the stretch for us,” Ridder said. “I look for him to really improve. He has to continue to improve defensively, but he’s one of the few guys that can play the 1 through 5. He’s skilled enough to play guard and strong enough to play inside.”
Christian Kennedy, a 6-11 center who was the Falcons’ seventh man last year, moves into the starting lineup. Sophomore Markee Williams takes over at point guard after missing most of last season with a broken foot.
Wesley Alcegaire, a heavily-recruited sophomore transfer, and freshman Tyquone Greer of Chicago are two more 6-6 players perimeter players. The Falcons also have a pair of freshmen from Nigeria in 6-7 Afam Osu and 6-9 Abdul Sarki, who will provide depth inside.
“We have great sophomore leadership,” Ridder said. “Every day they lead by example and do the right thing. I think this team has an extremely high ceiling, but I think we’ll take some lumps early.”