As ACU has been on a journey to Div. 1, grad transfer point guard Tevin Foster has been on a journey of his own these last five years.
After injuring his C6 vertebrae his senior year of high school, Tevin was recruited to play football at Missouri Valley Conference competitor South Dakota, even though his first love was basketball. But Tevin wanted his shot at the Div. 1 level. And in his first year he saw plenty of playing time, but the fit wasn’t right for him.
Still in love with basketball and a dream to play at the next level, Tevin left South Dakota after just one season and eventually transferred to Labette Community College in Kansas. But it was just a stepping stone for him.
“JUCO is all about getting your opportunity,” Foster said. “You being able to, not necessarily having the green light but being able to play basketball and having that freedom. At junior college it was about winning, but it was really about for yourself.”
So again Tevin was on the move, this time to Div. 2 competitor Drury University. It was here that Tevin said he learned how to play in a system.
“It went from [the JUCO] mentality to going to Drury where it was all about team,” Foster said. “I had to learn team concepts, I had to learn a different system. I had to learn how to play without the ball, set screens, be the screener. When I got to Drury I learned all the little things, and it really helped balance my game out.”
After two seasons Tevin had become the team’s leading scorer at Drury University with 13.8 points per game and graduated with his undergraduate degree. But he still had one year of eligibility left, and Tevin was ready to test the waters at the next level.
With Oklahoma, South Dakota, Kansas and Missouri in his rear view mirror, Tevin was drawn to Texas and more importantly ACU by head coach Joe Golding and his staff. And coming with, something that Golding harped on during the recruiting process.
“I’m an old football guy myself. And I think anytime you can sign a football player. I think they just bring a really good toughness to them,” Golding said.
Whether it has been all his transitioning before his arrival to Abilene or something entirely different, Tevin hasn’t skipped a beat. He’s been just what the doctor ordered, adding his ball-handling, tenacity and scoring to a team that Golding already thought was deep.
“We thought that we needed another guard, a guard that could score it,” Golding said. “We returned a bunch of players, and it’s tough for a kid to come in that’s completely brand new. His role here is different than it was at Drury so there are some adjustments in that, but since day one he’s fit right in.”
And score it he has, posting a 13.5 point scoring clip through the first nine games. For junior Jaylen Franklin, who Tevin jokingly referred to as the LeBron to his Isaiah Thomas, this added scoring threat has really opened up the floor for others.
“It takes a lot of pressure off me, Jaren and Jalone, I mean you add another scorer, you can space the floor out,” Franklin said. “Some nights if Jaren is going off or if they have to come to me, or if they have all three of us locked down you just add another scorer like him and he can do it all.”
But beyond fitting into the scheme on the court, junior Jaren Lewis, who has been the Wildcat’s leading scorer during the early parts of this season with 15.3 points per contest said Tevin’s knack for the way the game is played has helped the team from the get go.
“Tevin has added elements of toughness and experience right away,” Lewis said. “He’s been a great teammate and we all love him. His experience is very valuable to us and he is another senior leader to compliment Tripp and Drake.”
With the experience however, comes the reality that this is Tevin’s last chance and last stop in a long college journey.
“This is the last year this team can play with each other,” Foster said. “Next year this team won’t be together, players will leave, we’ve got a couple seniors, but you only get this team one time. We know we have the talent to compete with any team, so we just keep getting better and improving as a team, the sky is the limit for us. ”
Golding said the decision to come to ACU speaks volumes about Tevin’s character and is a great player to add to the foundation he hopes to build with this program.
“He’s trusted us with his one year, and I think that’s also a testament to who he is, that he wants to win now,” Golding said. “We have a locker room right now that just wants to win games, they don’t care about stats. I think Tevin is a winner, and I think he fits in with culture we’re trying to build.”
And so far so good for the Wildcats. After Wednesday night’s win over Air Force, ACU sits at 6-3 on the season and already has the Creek Classic Tournament under its belt. The team will look to continue to stay hot Saturday when they welcome Texas State to Moody Coliseum.
But Tevin said that despite aspirations to go to the NCAA Tournament, this season isn’t about wins and losses. At the end of the game, this season is about building character for what comes next in the bigger journey of life.
“I just want to come into this year, my last year and be able bring something to the table to this team that can help them grow in the future and to lead them to their future success,” Foster said. “I just want be able to be that guy that came in, and leave a positive impact on this team that can help them in the future. wWin or lose these guys brought me in, they took me in and I respect them for that.”
Golding said it’s that understanding and mindset that has helped make the transition seamless for Tevin and the rest of this team.
“There is nothing fake about we do, from day one we told him we loved him,” Golding said. “Tevin understands that’s our culture and what that’s about. We care for each other and we want to invest in each other. Tevin has a big heart, he cares about people and he comes from a great family. He’s fit right into our culture and what we’re trying to do here.”
Along with the third best scoring average on the team, Tevin has also garnered the most mintues played, most free attempts and makes and is tied for the team lead with Franklin with 1.9 steals per game.