Mocs Reset Season Opener Wednesday Against Lander


( CHATTANOOGA—The Chattanooga Mocs season opener against Bellarmine went by the wayside late last week. Rather than sulk, the coaching staff found an opponent in much the same boat. Season No. 102, 2.0, is reset as Lander comes to the Scenic City Wednesday for a 2 p.m., tipoff.

“We’re thankful this worked out,” Coach Lamont Paris said. “We had a cancellation; Lander did as well. I’m happy we were able to work everything out in such a short time period and give our guys a chance to play. It’s vitally important to us to be safe and smart as we proceed in this environment.

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“It’s a great job by our administration and sports medicine group to make all this happen on a quick turnaround.”

The Bearcats were slated to open Tuesday against USC Aiken. Former Moc Omar Wattad ’12 now has to wait a day to make his head coaching debut with it coming at the sight of some of his fondest collegiate memories. Wattad transferred from Georgetown in 2009 and played the 2011 and 2012 seasons ranking fifth all-time in 3pt made with 168. His 456 points in 2011 led the squad.

The Mocs are coming off the 20th 20-win campaign in school history. Seniors David Jean-Baptiste and Stefan Kenić return along with juniors A.J. Caldwell and Trey Doomes. They’re joined by sophomores Grant Ledford, Ashton Smith, Prosper Obidiebube and junior Alex Tostado in helping prepare the six newcomers to the roster.

Sophomore Malachi Smith and redshirt freshmen Jaden Frazier and Jamaal Walker are new to the playing roster, but they used their year off the floor to get ready to contribute in 2020-21. Smith transferred from Wright State where he earned 2019 Horizon League All-Freshman honors.

Junior Mark Tikhonenko (Sam Houston) and senior Josh Ayeni (South Alabama) are immediately transferring in for the 2020-21 roster. Darius Banks (James Madison) and KC Hankton (Saint Louis) also joined the program this summer but are currently sitting out the campaign due to NCAA transfer rules.

Lander is a NCAA DII member of the Peach Belt Conference. It’s coming off a 23-win season. The contest will be played without fans in attendance and broadcast on ESPN’s online platforms.

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at