Coach Rob was cautious with Xavier Pinson to start pre-season as he recovered from an injury sustained in the CEBL over the summer, but he made his return to the court last night.
“I liked Xavier out there. He’s a natural point guard and he’s so slick with his dribble. His head is always up because he’s such a good ball-handler who doesn’t need to look at the ball. He can get in gaps and make plays, and tonight he did that.”
“The injuries hurt us at the start of pre-season. Losing Xavier and Caleb hurt us because we haven’t got a good look at who we are with a full roster.
“But overall, I like our depth. It’s been great having Mo and Conner back out there, and I also thought Blake has been great this pre-season. He’s been playing consistently well. We’ve got a lot of good guys, and come Friday, we’ll be able to utilise them.
“We’re happy to be home, and we’re looking forward to having a good crowd for our season opener. It’s always exciting on opening night.”
Young star Blake Bowman has impressed in his second Riders pre-season, scoring in double-digits in every game.
“I’m feeling great. It’s a good opportunity to get out there and put on a show for the fans. I’ve been working on the three-point shot, and my dribble pull-up to add some range to my game.”
“As long as Coach Rob trusts me, I’m going to be out on the floor. I just need to make winning plays to force him to keep me out there.”
Bowman was perfect from the field in the game, going 7-7 and 1-1 from three.
Upon his return to court, Xavier Pinson impressed. He had 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in 19 minutes of action.
“It was great to be out there with my teammates. I thought we controlled the pace better than we had throughout the pre-season, and we were sharper as a team. For the most part, I was just happy to be on the court.
“I know the level of competition is set to increase, but after the game, I feel like I’m in great shape. I’m ready to show the fans what we can do.
“I feel like we learned a lot about each other, and what Coach Rob wants from us as a team. It’s a great starting point for us to build going towards the season.”
Miryne Thomas once again showed his scoring ability against USA Select, leading the Riders with 19 points and seven rebounds despite only playing 19 minutes.
After picking up fouls battling inside, Thomas says his biggest focus is staying on the court.
“The biggest thing for me is to play without fouling. I got into foul trouble tonight, so I couldn’t play for long stretches.
“I’m in good shape and feel like I can play hard for 40 minutes, so I want to be in a position where I can play big minutes.”
In his first game in front of the Riders’ home crowd, Thomas fed off the energy.
“I loved the energy here at the Morningside Arena. I liked how the fans reacted to everything we did out there, and after the game, they stayed to give us love.”
In his final year in Missouri, Pinson exploded for 36 points for his career-high in scoring.
The Tigers needed every one of his points to take a 102-98 win against TCU, as Pinson three point eruption took the game over.
Missouri was down eight with two minutes left, but he led a comeback with a deep shooting, making a four-point play to cut it to four, then tying the game with a clutch three with four seconds left, sending it to overtime.
In OT, yet another three-point bomb connected to take the lead with a minute and a half remaining, which the Tigers would see out.
In the game, Pinson hit a career-high eight threes; the Horned Frogs with no answer to Pinson’s hot hand.
They attempted to stem the bleeding by sending Pinson to the foul line, but he cooly knocked down eight of his nine free throws, including at the end of OT to seal it.
The game was one of his five 20-point scoring explosions in his junior year, and his last season at Missouri.
Winning, whatever it takes
Pinson kicked off his season at LSU on a 12-game winning streak, and winning 14 of his first 15 games.
During that time, he was recognised as a player who would do anything to contribute to winning, no matter how that manifested on the stat sheet.
Nothing demonstrates that more than Pinson’s seven-steal game, in a 75-61 win against the undefeated Wake Forest.
Pinson had nine points on the game, six of them from the free throw line, he remained engaged and intense throughout. His defensive efforts allowed LSU to get out on the run, in a game where buckets were tough for both sides.
Pinson found a way to impact the proceedings and proved the difference between the sides without lighting up the points column as he so often does.
Pinson’s play for LSU helped set a new culture, centred around suffocating defence leading to transition points.
Hot start for New Mexico’s new man
Transferring to New Mexico State for his final year of eligibility, Pisnon went off for two 20-point games in his first three outings. The highest scoring of the pair was a 25-point game, another three-point explosion for the 23 -year-old.
He drained six threes in a 90-77 win against the University of San Diego. Pinson shot 80% from the field and dished eight assists for the Aggies, dominating all areas of the game.
His explosiveness and quickness made a quick impression on his new team, as he led the game to take New Mexico State’s second win of the season.
Pinson went on to put up five 20-point outings on the season, leading the Aggies in points and assists per game.
Carrying the scoring load
Pinson put Missouri on his back for two straight games in his sophomore year, averaging 30 points to lead his team to consecutive wins.
He followed up a 28-point outing against Auburn, where he went 10-12 from the field and 6-8 from the free throw line, with a 32-point explosion against Ole Miss.
Pinson went 4-4 from three and 10-11 from the foul line in a three-point win, where the Tigers needed every point he put up. He went off for 24 in the second half alone.
He hit six free throws in the final minute, and eight of Missouri’s last 12 points to seal the victory, coming up clutch in just his second college year.
The outings broke Pinson’s career-highs in back-to-back games, as he demonstrated his ability to take over proceedings and lead a team to wins.
Freshman’s first 20 point game
Pinson had consistent success against Ole Miss, putting up his first 20-point game against them in his freshman year.
He had 20 points and six assists, pushing the Rebels all the way in a six-point loss. He led the team with his points tally, going 8-12 from the field in just 29 minutes of play.
Missouri entered the game as underdogs, against an Ole Miss side with their eyes set firmly on the NCAA Tournament.
The game was tied with 3:35 to play, but their opponents saw the best of the late momentum to avoid the upset. Pinson impressed on all fronts in the game, setting him up for three successful seasons in Missouri.
Leicester Riders are excited to announce the signing of Xavier Pinson for the 2023/24 season.
The 6’2” American guard signs from New Mexico State University, following stints at LSU and Missouri over his five-year college career. The Chicago native averaged 13.3 points and 4.5 assists in his final college season in New Mexico.
Pinson served as LSU’s starting point guard for the 2021/22 season, averaging 9.8 points, 4.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He helped lead the Tigers to a 14-1 start to the season and an overall record of 22-12
He spent three years prior at the University of Missouri, putting up 10.3 points as a junior. Pinson helped Missouri to an appearance in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Pinson commented: “I know I’m coming to a legendary organisation, so I want to add to the trophy cabinet. I want a championship. I don’t care about anything else, I just want to win. I want to help my coaches, teammates and organisation to where it should be.
“I’ve worked extremely hard to be the player I am today, so I want to get out there and play well for the fans. My focus is on helping this team in any way possible: whatever anyone needs from me is what I’ll bring to the team. I’m ready to help add more history to the Riders.”
Head Coach Rob Paternostro added: “We are thrilled to sign Xavier. He is an exciting guard who has great quickness and can make plays all over the court.
“He is a guard that can eliminate defenders and put pressure on the defence with his passing and finishing at the rim.
“He has played at a high level and shown the ability to be a dynamic player. It should be exciting to watch him play.”
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