Buffalo Springfield were the rare rock band whose members were multi-national, consisting of a few Americans (Stephen Stills etc) mixed with some international contingent (Neil Young & Bruce Palmer). They were young and budding musicians, just beginning to realize their full potential and future super stardom that was about to ensue for several of its band members.
They are perhaps best remembered for the classic "For What It’s Worth" and those prophetic lines of "There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear." The song was later sampled by Public Enemy in 1998 and used as the theme song for the Spike Lee film "He Got Game" starring (a fresh out of UConn) Ray Allen, who filmed most of the film while still a rookie with the Milwaukee Bucks.
There is something special happening in Nashville with the Tennessee State basketball program, what it is ain’t exactly clear. Like Buffalo Springfield, the Tigers consist of a few Americans mixed with some international flavor, including players from Nigeria, England & Canada.
This past season, the Tigers tied a school record with 20 wins (20-11); completing the most impressive turnaround from the previous season of all teams in the NCAA, with a 15 win difference from their abysmal (5-26) 2014-15 season. The Tigers are led by the youngest head coach in NCAA basketball in Dana Ford. The 31 year-old Ford won this year’s Ben Jobe Award (presented to the top minority coach in the NCAA) as well as the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Coach of The Year and was mentioned as a candidate in several potential coaching opportunities at major programs this off-season.
Following a similar path to Shaka Smart (who spurned potential suitors for years while at VCU, before eventually taking his leap of faith to Texas), Ford opted to stay at Tennessee State and continues to build to his 20 win team with an eye on a trip to the NCAA tournament come March.
But what is he building at Tennessee State?
Well, if his recent recruiting says anything, he's building something special.
The Tigers landed a really talented incoming group led by JUCO transfer Ken'Darrius Hamilton, who comes out of Meridian Community College and is listed at 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds. He has more than enough talent to contribute immediately in the rotation.
The group also includes 6-foot-5 and 220 pound Daniel Cummings out of Canada, who should be able to play multiple positions on the wing. Notably, he comes out of Orangeville Prep (which is just outside of Toronto), which has produced an abundance of elite players including projected first round picks in this years NBA draft in Jamal Murray (Kentucky) and Thon Maker.
Tennessee State did lose five seniors to graduation including leading scorer Keron DeShields. However, the Tigers still retain many of the key pieces of their 20 win team including guard Tahjere McCall and his 14.6 points per game as well as forward Wayne Martin, who led the Tigers with 10 double-doubles on the season and was a dominant force on the boards, finishing third in the OVC with 9.1 rebounds per game.
Dana Ford and his Tennessee State Tigers definitely "got game," that has now become clear. With the confidence the team built this past season and the instant impact players Ford picked up on the recruiting trail, TSU could be considered the dark horse to win the OVC this season and could be a potential bracket buster come March.