The College of the Ozarks Bobcats and head coach Steve Shepherd are looking to head into the 2016-2017 season with some added momentum.

The Bobcats finished 20-9 last season with another appearance in the NAIA Division II National Championship tournament and are eager to add to the success of last year.

Three seniors will lead the Bobcats this season--point guard Cameron Paschke, center Kiefer Starbird, and guard Chandler Hall. Last season Paschke earned 1st Team All-Conference honors as well as Honorable mention All-American. Paschke has become a great leader for the Bobcats over the past three years and provides a gritty attitude that thrives in adversity.  He is one of the best 3-point shooters in the country, shooting 46% from outside the perimeter last season. Second-year transfer Kiefer Starbird will seek to add to last season’s stats, where he lead the team in blocks (67) and field goal percentage (56%). Starbird is an exceptional shot blocker and has the ability to score inside. It is anticipated that he will have a break-out year on offense. Rounding out the senior class will be Chandler Hall, who will provide strong leadership this season along with his drive to compete. It is expected Hall will be an offensive threat this season for the Bobcats.

The lone junior, Canyon Smith returns at guard as one of the best shooters on the club. Smith can stretch the defense with his 3-point shooting and thrives in pressure situations. Look for him to make some big shots this season.

Returning for the Cats is a talented sophomore group that garnered a great deal of court time last season. Heath Carmichael was a big contributor as a freshman and has only improved over the summer. Carmichael is smart on defense, and the Cats will count on his shooting and defense to contribute to their success. Forward Ethan Davidson turned it on in the second half of the 2015-16 season and can do it all. It is anticipated Davidson will put up some points and be a factor on defense this season. Fellow forward Ryan Burland will be a strong contender again this season, as he possesses a great 3-point shot while also being and inside-scoring threat. Luke Daniels rounds out the sophomore class with a hard work ethic that provides a good example to his teammates. Daniels competes with a lot of energy and can play both sides of the ball.

This year’s recruiting class features three new freshmen, each of whom are expected to have a positive impact on this year’s squad. Lawrenceville guard Brandt Cochran, Fair Grove guard Kyle Cavanaugh, and Belton point guard DeMon Hyler each have unique talents to add to the team. Cochran comes from a successful program in Illinois, where he received All-State honors. He is a triple-threat player who makes everyone better with his strong passing. Cavanaugh is also an All-State recipient. He shoots well from beyond the arc and has endless energy to contribute. Hyler brings a high basketball IQ to the squad and plays a solid defensive game. There is a good chance he will share point guard duties this season.

Having lost seniors Murray, Frazier and Young from last season, the Bobcats will rely heavily on the production of their returners and the contributions of their newcomers.  Coach Shepherd, in his 15th season, will strive to build upon the lasting legacy of the program and continue to pursue his team’s success both on and off the court.

We look forward to another stellar year of College of the Ozarks Bobcat basketball!

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