Champion Welcomes Back Veteran Leadership and Young Core
The Champion Tigers are excited to announce the return of 14 of 16 eligible players for the 2023-2024 season. With 6 graduating seniors, The young core of returners is primed and ready to make the jump, and the returning veteran leadership is looking to take Champion back to the NCCAA National Tournament for the second straight season. Coach Hatfield had this to say about the returners "We are extremely blessed to have such a great returning group to set the culture and the standard for Champion Basketball. The growth has been massive for each individual, and I'm ready for these guys to get back on campus this fall and get to work!"
Damian Bohlman: The 6'2 guard entering his Sophomore season is returning, primed to defend his title as the best 3 point shooter in the NCCAA. Damian progressed game after game last season, and as his role grew each game so did his production. Shooting 48% for 3, and over 50% from the field, Damian is an offensive threat who can shoot and finish at the basket. With 32 steals in just 20 games, defensively Damian brings a lot to the court. Damian also excels off the court, with a 4.0 GPA.
Robert Carrigan: The 6'3 guard will also be returning for his sophomore season, ready to crack into the rotation after developing at a fast rate throughout the season. Robert has all the intangibles to be a great player at our level. Size, strength, speed, and great athleticism make Robert a matchup nightmare for smaller guards. A lob threat from anywhere on the court, and a 3 point shot that's really coming together, Carrigan is primed for a big sophomore year for the Tigers. Robert also does great in the classroom, sitting at a 3.76 GPA.
Jordan Faltine: The 6'0 guard is returning for his sophomore season, part of the very talented 2022 recruiting class for the Tigers. Jordan Faltine is a Texas native, who has just started to scratch the surface of his game. A shifty guard with explosive quickness, and an athletic frame, Jordan has really been putting in the work this last season. One of the leaders in the weight room, and starting every development team game, Jordan is has really shown growth on and off the court and we are excited to have him coming back.
Aden Henderson: The 6'2 guard will be returning for his sophomore season for Champion Christian this year. Aden is a knock down shooter who has shown major growth since day one. Aden has worked to develop his strength and finishing, building his game into more than just a shooter. During the off season, you could really see the development as a player and the work ethic show. In the off season league, Aden was averaging 12 points per game on 50% shooting. It is great to have Aden return to Champion!
Xavier Hall: The 6'5 forward Xavier Hall is back for his final year of college basketball with the Champion Christian Tigers. One of the best athletes at any level of basketball, Xavier had a great Junior season, his first at Champion. Scoring 30 points against a D1 opponent, 23 points and 9 rebounds against his former school, D2 Ouachita Baptist, or dunking all over the competition, Xavier showcased his full skillset for the Tigers. Grinding hard in the off season with Coach Gravitt, Xavier is sharpening his skills even more, looking to build on last year where he averaged 13 points and 5 rebounds on 46% from the field.
Dillan Hopkins: Dillan is a 6'1 guard who is returning for his junior season. Dillan made quite the impression early on in the season, playing with high energy and making plays happen. Unfortunately, an ankle injury sidelined Dillan for a large chunk of the season. In the off season, Dillan began to get his legs back and you could see the player he was at the beginning of the year get back. Dillan is a dynamic athlete who plays hard, and every team needs guys like that. Dillan also is an excellent student, posting a 4.0 GPA.
Malik Laurent: The 6'7 Center is coming back to Champion for his junior season, spending the past 2 seasons with the Champion Tigers. The last season was a struggle for Malik, as he suffered a concussion that held him out for 3 weeks. After that, he became sick, missing multiple games as well. Staying in Hot Springs over the summer, Malik is determined to work on his game and get back to his freshman year form, where he was second in the country in blocks, and averaged 5 points and 6 rebounds in 15 minutes per game. Malik is regarded as one of the best rim protectors in the country, and is a rim runner and developing a back to the basket game.
Deon Lawson: The 6'4 forward is returning for his sophomore year with Champion. Deon is a long defensive threat who can guard 1-4 consistently. With a great jump shot, he is the prototypical 3-and-D player. Deon has been working hard on developing his frame, lifting consistently in the off season to put on muscle. Deon has an opportunity to develop into a good player if he continues to add strength and athleticism, and as hard of a worker he is it would be no surprise when it happens. We are excited to have him back next year to get even better and showcase the work he has been putting in. Deon also carries an impressive 3.4 GPA.
Tuvaris Noonan: The 6'3 guard from Roland, OK is returning for his Sophomore year, ready to make the jump after a great off season of skill development. Tuvaris is arguably the best athlete on the team, and maybe Champion history. His high flying dunks are absolutely incredible to watch, doing so about 3 times a game for the Development team this past year. Tuvaris has put in a ton of work developing his jump shot and handle, and is ready to come back this year and earn a bigger role. Keep an eye out for his jaw dropping dunks!
Joshua Walpole: The 6'4 forward is coming back to Champion for his second year with the Tigers. Josh Walpole is a very interesting story. Out of high school, Josh went on to play baseball at a JUCO in Texas. When his time was up there, he was done with the sport after numerous injuries. Growing up right down the road in Mountain Pine, Josh reached out to Mo Capaci about joining the team in any capacity, playing basketball in High school and just wanting to finish school close to home. Josh came in and shocked everyone, playing at an extremely high level from day 1. Ending the year in a loaded front court averaging 5 points and 5 rebounds on nearly 60% from the field, Josh was a big part of the team. He also finished second on the team in steals. Living 15 minutes away, Josh has been working consistently on his game, developing into a great player.
AJ Williams: The 6'0 guard from Dallas Texas is using his COVID year to come back to Champion for his 5th year, and we are elated to have him return. 1,000 point scorer, 1st Team All American, 1st Team All Region, Regional Player of the Year, the list of accolades go on and on, and that was just from last season. The Dallas, Texas point guard averaged 20 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game last year. AJ is returning to do the one thing left in his career he has yet to accomplish: Win a National Championship. Expect a big season from #13!
Cade Wilson: The 6'8 Stretch 5 is returning to Champion for his sophomore year. Cade was a part of the Varsity team this year, but got some valuable experience with the Development Team where he averaged a double double with points and rebounds. A knock down shooter at 6'8 Cade is a prototypical Stretch 5, who can rebound and make opposing big men step out and guard the perimeter. Cade is working hard putting muscle on his frame and developing his post game to become a 3 level scorer. We are excited to have Cade back in a Tiger Uniform!
Christian Yates: The 6'3 guard/forward is back in the Tiger uniform for his sophomore season. A Shreveport, Louisiana native, Christian is a big guard with an ability to score on the inside or out. A good 3 point shooter with great footwork in the paint, Christian can score when you need. Yates is putting a lot of time into developing his body, getting into shape and getting stronger to be able to play a larger role next year. Christian has great family support and people backing him, which will help him develop even more as a player for next season working out at home.
Kyle Younge: The 5'10 guard is back at Champion for his second year, coming in as a junior. Kyle transferred in at semester for the Tigers last year, stepping into a loaded front court after not playing basketball for a year and a half. Fighting through injuries in the 9 games he played for Champion, he averaged 6.5 points per game, as well as 1 steal. Kyle is just now starting to get back to the player he once was, a starting PG at D2 Missouri Southern State. With a lot of repetition and work in the gym this off season and summer, it would be no surprise to see Kyle Younge making big plays for the Tigers next season. We are excited to see a fully healthy and ready to go Kyle!