Winter Sports Preview: A look at the upcoming seasons for Eastern Men’s and Women’s Basketball

By: Will Cunningham

There’s an old saying that goes, ‘the end of one chapter is just the beginning of another.’ As the page chapter of the fall season comes to a close, we turn the page to a new chapter: the chapter of Eastern basketball.

Now, basketball has been hyped up for quite some time now. With the recent Flight Night hosted as a pep rally for both the men’s and women’s squads, Eastern has gotten their students excited to come out and support the players. Expect packed seats at the gymnasium, more formally known as The Nest, during their home games, with booming crowds watching 40 minutes of action, featuring clutch shots, terrific passes and key blocks from their fellow Eastern students.

Waltonian | The Waltonian Camila Sosa(20)&Kayla Worsley-Wooten (4)/Source: EU Athletic Photography

The women’s basketball team comes in with a newer look this season. Only four players from last year’s squad are back for this season. The top scorer of these four from last year was center Taryn Woodson, who started every game for the Eagles last year and averaged a double, with 11 points and 11 rebounds per game. There’s also Camila Sosa, who led the team in assists as the team’s primary ball handler last season.

Kayla Jefferson and Tyera Jarvis, who provided depth off the bench last season, have also returned. As for the newcomers, four transfers and seven freshmen come to a squad to replenish holes left by some key departures, including Jaelyn Harris, the school’s all-time three-point leader, and Ashya Gaddy, the team’s leading scorer a season ago. The Eagles are coming off a rough season marred by injuries and COVID-19. This year, they’ll look to bounce back under eight-year head coach Eric Houston.

On the other hand, the men’s team is coming off a season of historical success. They finished last year with a 21-6 record—their best record in school history. Despite falling four points short of winning the conference title, that campaign was good enough to advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

This season, they feature many of those key players from last year’s historic squad. Jaron Fairweather, Sam Gallardo and Kaeshawn Ward each averaged over 10 points a game last year, and they’re looking to continue to produce in this incredibly balanced offense. Other returners include forwards Jairus Carroll and Olutobi Akinbayo, as well as guard Davin Hernandez, each of whom received significant playing time last year.

As for the new recruits, forward Eljay Morris comes over after spending two years at Emmanuel College. Freshmen Olise Onyeka and twins Zubair and Zayd Lee provide height and athleticism for electrifying depth. Those four were only half of eight new faces hoping to make an impact in head coach Dan Pruessner’s lineup.

That’s on top of the 15 men who have been reserved for the developmental squad. This squad features 12 new players to go alongside three players who each had impressive showcases last year: all-around talent Jahfari Mejia, big man Brian Justus and sharpshooter Zachary Villa return after impressive showings last season. The developmental team men will be led by Sheldon Diemler, who also serves as an assistant coach on the aforementioned men’s team.

The full rosters and schedules for each of these teams can be found at

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