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The University of Arkansas Lions at Pine Bluff are ready to play ball. On Tuesday, the UAPB men’s and women’s basketball teams held a celebration at Saracen Casino Resort to talk about the upcoming season. The event was also an opportunity for fans to purchase subscription packages to support both programs. “It’s basketball time,” Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander told the crowd. “It’s time for winning basketball.”

Recruiting has been an important part of the men’s and women’s basketball program during the offseason. The Lady Lions have 12 new faces joining returning key players Zaay Green, a 6-2 redshirt senior guard, and Maya Peat, a 6-6 junior center, Lady Lions coach Dawn Thornton said. The Golden Lions include 12 new faces and the return of a star from George Ivory’s final season at the helm.

Both teams will begin play on November 7. The Golden Lions will face Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. The Lady Lions take on the University of Arkansas Razorbacks at UAPB at 7 p.m. The Razorbacks’ chance to play Pine Bluff is a big deal for the UAPB, Thornton said. “It helps with recruiting,” Thornton told the crowd. “It gives people a chance to see an HBCU, our community and our campus.”

She said while some students leave for the U of A, some may end up in a UAPB jersey before their college career is over. And a Razorback loss could be a win for Lady Lions. Thornton said she and her team are focused on adding players this season who could play in multiple positions like Green. It helped, she said, to have a good recruiting budget. For the Golden Lions, coach Solomon Bozeman is in his second year as a coach, and it will be different than the last. He said the return of Shaun Doss was a boost for the program.

Doss returns to Pine Bluff for his extra season of eligibility after spending last season at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Doss spent three years at UAPB. In 2020-21, he was the team’s top scorer (15.9 points per game) and second on the SIUE team last season (12).

Bozeman called Doss an “incredible leader” and “everyday guy” who can take the Golden Lions to the next level. “We have size. We have shots that we didn’t have last year,” Bozeman said. “We have skills.” The most important thing for both teams is for fans to come and watch the team especially after two years in a covid-19 world. It was a tough sell on Tuesday night because the players want – and need – to play in front of home crowds, according to the coaches. General admission tickets are $120 for the season and include all home games. Reserved chairs are $250. Courtyard seats that include a VIP parking space are $600 and require a purse donation of $250 per seat.

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