ABOVE: Cameron Hunt, senior guard, drives past an OKWU defender late in the 2017-18 season. Hunt, a second team All-American, looks to lead the Builder’s to a consecutive KCAC championships in 2018. (Tessa Castor/Staff photographer)

Coming off a 2017-18 campaign that saw the Builder Men’s basketball team claim a regular season KCAC title and a final ranking of 13th nationally, the season opener at Randall University is full of expectations. The Builders return their leading scorer from the previous season in NAIA D-II second team All-American Cameron Hunt, senior guard, who averaged 23.3 points per game in 2017, but are hoping to account for the output of graduates Jacob Horsch and Myron Fisher.

“We brought in a lot of talent and we like the new guys we have,” said Matt O’Brien, 10th year head coach. “The strongest point of Jacob and Myron was their leadership so were not able to replace guys like that, but collectively with out staff and players we’re all trying to step up our game in regards to leadership to hopefully have another successful season.”

The Builders enter their opener at Randall University, winners of the previous three NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) Division-II national tournaments, ranked 18th in the coaches preseason polls. However, where the Builders sit in the preseason polls appears to be the last thing on the team’s mind collectively explained Kenyatta Sewell, sophomore forward.

“We don’t respond to the rankings, we just go out and play basketball,” said Sewell “The expectations for this season is to go back to the conference championship, as well as get back to the national tournament and make some more noise.”

The Builders are picked to finish second in the KCAC conference behind 6th ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan, who bested Southwestern in the KCAC tournament championship last year. Despite being picked behind OKWU, the Builders feel they are the team to beat due to both new and returning talent.

“As a team the sky is the limit,” said Jarehn White, sophomore guard. “I believe we have more talent this year as a group than last year.”

Randall will have a tall task keeping up with Southwestern’s talented back-court after losing three time NCCAA player of the year Trey Sneed to graduation. Despite the loss of a large chunk of Randall’s scoring output from the 2017-18 season in Sneed, the Builders are aware of the challenge they face going on the road to face the defending NCCAA champions. Experience and a positive outlook on the season breeds confidence for the team’s challenging opener explained Andrew Hamm, sophomore guard.

“I feel like the team has a positive attitude for tonight’s game,” said Hamm. “We will face some challenges during the game but we will be ready.”

The Builders tip off their season tonight at 7 pm in Moore, Ok. their first of two games on the road to begin the 2018-19 season. After games at Randall and Ozark Christian, the Builders will return to Stewart Field House November 7, for their home opener against Manhattan Christian at 7 pm. The 2017-18 team will be honored before the game in KCAC championship ring ceremony.

Cale Eirich is a senior majoring in communication. You may email him at cale.eirich@sckans.edu.