Following three seasons spent at Bethune-Cookman, 6-foot-5 guard Joe French entered the portal this past offseason and by early July had announced his decision to transfer in-conference and join Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The decision earned French a Preseason All-SWAC Second Team nod and has paid major dividends for head coach Solomon Bozeman into the opening weeks of the College Basketball season.
Currently, French is averaging 22 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 2.3 STLPG, having scored the fourth most points nationally behind teammate Kylen Milton who leads the country.
French’s early season success started during the Golden Lions opener against Missouri. Despite a 101-79 loss to the Tigers, French played all 40 minutes and contributed 30 points on 37% shooting, while adding six rebounds, two assists, and four steals.
Last Thursday, French and Co. picked up their first win by defeating NCCAA program Champion Christian 116-73 behind a team-leading 26 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and two steals from the Orlando, FL native.
To round out the week, French played a season-low 31 minutes but still managed 10 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal as UAPB took down in-state NAIA program Southwest Christian 112-68.
Prior to arriving in Pine Bluff, the former SWAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year was known as a guard who could score in multiple ways, but he’s developed into the lead ball handler role well for Bozeman.
In addition, French’s ability to consistently provide production here in the early season while leading this UAPB offense as the primary ball handler really showcases his improvement from last season at Bethune-Cookman.
Behind Milton, Saint Louis transfer Rashad Williams averaging 18 PPG, and French, this elite Golden Lions backcourt rotation is going to cause opponents problems with their fast-paced and high scoring offensive attack come conference play.
Picked just tenth in the SWAC’s preseason poll, look for the Golden Lions to make it three consecutive wins tonight with a matchup against local rivals Central Arkansas at the Farris Center in Conway, AR.