Friday brings size to men’s basketball team

Dillan Schorfheide, Sports Editor

It did not take long for Eastern men’s basketball head coach Jay Spoonhour to add the size he was looking for in Sammy Friday IV.

Eastern announced Wednesday that Friday is joining the Panthers’ roster for next season, and he is filling a role that Spoonhour said he wanted to address with recruiting.

Spoonhour said he wanted to get more size on the team, while noting that he also wanted to get a couple more forwards who can do different things than what current forwards George Dixon and Jordan Skipper-Brown can do.

Thus, Friday’s size and abilities inside will give Eastern another layer on offense and defense.

“Size has helped in some cases in my career but most of the guys I’ve played against were my size or bigger, and I think my strengths are a combination of those things including the little stuff like diving for balls, taking charges and bringing energy,” Friday said.

Eastern will be losing JaQualis Matlock to graduation, so Friday will be the third forward on Eastern’s roster to complete the three-forward roster the Panthers had last season. More than that, though, Matlock was also someone who did all the little things, so Friday’s play style is already filling in for players who are now gone.

Friday said that when Spoonhour talked with him, Spoonhour said he was looking for someone who can play on the inside and score in the paint.

On top of that, Friday mentioned that he will also work on stepping out to make 10-15-foot shots.

The addition of Friday is an important one for the Panthers.

The top OVC teams all have forwards who are either tall or who are just flat-out good: Austin Peay has Terry Taylor, who was the OVC Player of the Year, and Belmont has 6-foot-11-inch Nick Muszynski, for example.

Dixon and Skipper-Brown do a great job for being undersized compared to some OVC opponents, but with 6-foot-9-inch Friday joining the Eastern squad, it will give the Panthers better chances against bigger competition.

Friday also brings a very important intangible to the team, that being his experience.

As a player at Siena College this past season, Friday was part of the team who brought home the regular season crown. 

“Playing four years at Siena I’ve grown a lot and I can share my experience and knowledge I’ve acquired over the years,” Friday said. “At the same time I can also learn from the other guys being that this is a new conference and new style of play.”

It was not just basketball that brought Friday to Eastern, though.

“Finding the right program was really important for me,” Friday said, regarding academics. “When I spoke with (assistant coach Justin Brown) and coach (Spoonhour) I told them I was looking for something that I can link with sociology. And after doing research I came across information systems. I think going into the tech program at EIU will allow me to learn a variety of things including information systems.”

During this past season, Friday averaged 4.1 points and 2.6 rebounds per game and had three games where he scored in double figures, according to Eastern’s announcement.

Friday rounds out Eastern’s roster pretty well, but last week, Spoonhour mentioned he was looking to add two forwards to the roster (this was before Friday joined the team). That leaves room for Spoonhour to still add another forward, one that can shoot from the outside more.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at [email protected]