By: John Miller
Travaun Coad picked up the rock at a young age, and now finds himself as a standout on MSUM’s basketball team.
Coad made his way to MSUM by way of junior guard A.J. Nywesh. Coad and Nywesh were roommates at the University of Tennessee Martin (UTM), before Nywesh came to MSUM. Coad also felt UTM was not a good fit and was looking to transfer.
“A.J. ended up leaving UTM a semester before me,” Coad said. “It didn’t work out at (UTM), so he told me about MSUM. I talked to coach Walthall before I transferred and we kind of hit it off, so I came here.”
Coad, from Reading, Pennsylvania, is not the typical transfer in terms of his hometown. Previous transfer students on the team have “come home,” in a sense, as some of them are originally from the area.
“When we do have transfers, it’s usually kids who are from Minnesota,” Walthall said. “For example, A.J. is from Austin, Minnesota and Jake Johnson is from St. Francis, Minnesota. This is unique because a lot of the times it’s more local, but because of (Coad and Nywesh’s) friendship at Tennessee Martin, it worked out.”
It has been a quick and easy transition into the Dragons’ system for Coad. He said he immediately meshed with the team. The Dragons’ tendency to play unselfish team basketball makes Coad feel he is in the right place.
Now that he has settled in, he hopes to contribute in multiple facets.
Walthall is a big advocate for the three-point shot, and in the past, he has coached teams to be offense-oriented. While Coad is a gifted shooter, both he and Walthall are optimistic about him helping the team improve its defense and passing.
“Our defense was our weakest point last year,” Walthall said. “I think he’s going to be very helpful in that area first and foremost because he is strong and very quick laterally. All our guards can shoot threes; he can drive and get to the rim and get his teammates better shots. His defense and his ability to make plays for others are probably the two things that stand out the most.”
While Coad prides himself on being a solid defender and playmaker, he developed his perimeter shooting through two years of play in junior college.
He spent his freshman year at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he averaged 17.6 points and shot 39 percent on three-pointers. Before sitting out his junior year at UTM, he averaged 11.6 points and increased his three-point shooting to 42 percent; the same as MSUM’s sharpshooter, Tanner Kretchman.
After sitting out last year at UMT, Coad put extra effort in this offseason to make sure his jumper and ball-handling abilities transitioned to MSUM.
“I know getting to the college level at my (6-foot-1) size, you have to be able to dribble the ball, so I’ve been working on my handles a lot,” Coad said.
When asked what inspired him to develop a well-rounded game and become a successful college basketball player, Coad cited his mother.
“My mom drives me,” Coad said. “From always taking me to the park and how much time she put in with AAU tournaments and getting me basketball clothes … she motivates me to want to do something good with basketball.”
Coad’s mother is the reason he first picked up the game.
“As a kid, my mom made me play,” Coad said. “She used to play basketball when she was younger and took me to the park whenever she had time. Then I just started falling in love with the game.”
Coad is hoping that his passion for the game and cohesive play by the Dragons leads him to his ultimate goal of helping MSUM win a championship.