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Shay hits the road trying to keep team intact

Joe Avento • May 8, 2020 at 1:00 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Jason Shay hit the ground running as East Tennessee State’s new basketball coach.

A day after he was announced as the choice to replace Steve Forbes, Shay spent several hours doing photo and video shoots.

Then he hit the road on the recruiting trail.

Recruiting season might be over, as the team filled all of its scholarships before Forbes left.

So who is Shay recruiting? ETSU’s current players.

The new coach is spending the weekend going to the homes of his players and new recruits in hopes of settling them down. The players were undoubtedly shocked by Forbes’ quick exit. He didn’t even have time to say goodbye to them in person.

Shay is trying to assure them that the transition will be a smooth one and he doesn’t expect the team to miss a beat under his administration.

He’s expecting to be so busy that his introductory news conference won’t be held until next week.

Shay takes over a program that had just finished recruiting — that is if all the current players and new signees stay.

After high school big man Paul Smith out of DeMatha Catholic signed early last fall, ETSU got four Division I transfers to join during the current signing period.

Jalen Johnson, an athletic 6-foot-6 guard, transferred in from Tennessee. Silas Adheke, a 6-foot-8, 245 forward, came from Northern Kentucky.

Those two are graduate transfers, so they will be able to play immediately.

Ty Brewer, whose brother Ledarrius is on the ETSU team, came from Southeastern Louisiana. Kansas State point guard David Sloan was the last of the transfers.

Brewer and Sloan are not graduates, so under current NCAA transfer rules they would have to sit out the coming season. They could get a waiver and play right away.

In addition, the NCAA is still considering changing its rules to allow all players a one-time free transfer waiver, although the NCAA Division I board of directors has recommended not passing the rule for the coming school year.

The issue could still be voted on by the NCAA Division I Council, where it would either pass or fail, near the end of May.

ETSU’s schedule for the coming season is also just about finished.

The school has not made any official announcements, but the schedule is said to include two games against Southeastern Conference teams, a tournament outside the United States and at least one big home non-conference game.

Forbes, who had campaigned for Shay to get the job, offered his public congratulations on Twitter, saying “Congrats (Jason). Extremely happy for you, your family and the ETSU program‼! The players and the fans are in tremendous hands‼! I’m very proud of what WE accomplished together and over the past 12 years together. It’s your time.”

Shay’s contract won’t be finalized until this weekend.

Meanwhile, ETSU is set to receive $500,000 as the buyout for Forbes leaving. His previous contract had a $250,000 buyout with the stipulation that if he left for a major conference team, he’d play ETSU.

That provision was removed when Forbes signed his latest extension. Instead, the cash portion of the buyout was doubled.

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