Golden Lions get busy in summer

Having 65 youngsters learn the fundamentals of the game for three days is only a fraction of what Arkansas-Pine Bluff men’s basketball coach George Ivory has on his plate during the summer months.

But it’s a nice getaway from the rigors of recruiting and gives the student-athletes on campus for summer classes a change of pace from the usual offseason work.

Ivory and his Golden Lions are getting a kick out of seeing young children hone their skills during the team’s three-day camp at H.O. Clemmons Arena, which began Thursday.

“This is what it’s all about, seeing some things that you can take back and work at home, basic fundamentals,” Ivory said.

When the young kids get their fill of playing on the Lions’ home court, Ivory will be back at work gearing his players early for another season. A recent change in NCAA policies allows coaches to work with players as a group during summer academic sessions.

So, Ivory is getting an early look at one of his newcomers for 2014-15 in JoVaughn Love. The Pine Bluff High graduate missed this past season due to injury.

“We’re very excited about JoVaughn,” Ivory said.

The coach also has a pair of junior-college transfers, Watson Chapel alumnus T.J. Handley and West Memphis product Chauncy Parker on hand. Their addition gives the Lions much-needed height with the loss of 6-foot-8 Daniel Broughton to graduation, although the 6-foot-6 Handley has excelled as a guard in high school and at Mid-South Community College.

Ivory has not signed any players since landing Handley and Parker in April, but he said he has a player from Mississippi who is on campus and has yet to sign with the Lions. Ivory is still hoping the NCAA will allow seniors Chandler Savage and Davon Haynes an extra season of eligibility.

Aside from the camp and recruiting, it’s been an offseason that has left the Lions, who went 13-18, with plenty of what-ifs to ponder after going 16-14 the season before. UAPB made an early exit from the SWAC tournament in March following a stunning blowout loss to Alabama A&M, which the Lions defeated twice.

“We’re coming off just thinking that we had an opportunity to do a lot better with Marcel (Mosley) in the lineup,” Ivory said of his standout shooting guard. The senior-to-be from Marion sustained a fractured jaw late in the season and did not get to play in the conference tournament.

UAPB also dealt with injuries to key players during the season, including DeAndre McIntyre’s ACL tear mid-season and Haynes’ fractured hand, which limited his offensive production during a key stretch in conference play.

But Ivory has already identified a go-to guy on offense for next season in Mosley.

“He’s really putting in the work, and he’s a guy we’re looking forward to getting a whole lot of scoring from next year,” Ivory said.