By DANNY P. SMITH
Arkansas State men's basketball coach John Brady has lived up to his word as far as Starkville native Edward Townsel is concerned.
When Townsel signed with the Red Wolves following his senior season at Starkville High School, he was given the promise of playing time.
Townsel has played every game as a true freshman this season at Arkansas State and has averaged 14.5 minutes per game.
"I feel pretty good about the playing time I'm getting," Townsel said. "I was told when I signed that I would get quite a bit of playing time, but I didn't know it would be this much. I'm thanking God every day for this great opportunity and I'm trying to take advantage of it."
Townsel played for coach Greg Carter with the Yellowjackets and Carter was recruited by Brady to play at Mississippi State for coach Richard Williams.
Brady knew Townsel must have received quality instruction from Carter.
"He's been taught well and been in a good program," Brady said. "Greg has done a great job of preparing him to play at the Division I level.
"Sometimes you don't know a young player until you get around him on a daily basis. We thought Ed was going to be a good player when we got him, but he's so much more than we ever thought in terms of taking care of his business and going to school. He did excellent in school this fall and took care of his studies. He's always on time and works hard in practice."
On the court, Townsel averages 4.5 points per game. He shoots 37 percent (15 of 41) from the field and 50 percent (5 of 10) from three-point range.
Carter saw Townsel and the Red Wolves in action against Ole Miss earlier this season. He believes the future is bright for his former player.
"I'm happy for him," Carter said. "I think he's going to have a good career in college and hopefully have a chance to play on after college."
Townsel said the opportunity to play for Carter at SHS and win a state title was a key in his development as a player.
"It helped me grow as a player," Townsel said. "I'm understanding the game more, what we've got to do to win and what kind of intensity you need to bring to the table to win championships and win games."
After getting off to an 0-6 start, Arkansas State has a record of 4-7 going into tonight's game at Missouri State.
Townsel likes the direction the team is going.
"We're growing after every game and are getting better and better," Townsel said. "Hopefully, we can turn it up and get a little winning streak going."
Townsel had a reputation for his quickness while playing for the Yellowjackets and has been trying to improve on those skills. He has 10 steals for the Red Wolves which is third on the team.
"I've picked up on my defense and gotten a little better at it," Townsel said. "With the team coming back, it's a battle to see who is going to lead the team in steals. Everybody is just going after the ball."
Townsel believes if he can control the flow of the game more, slow down at the appropriate times and cut down on turnovers, he can get even more playing time.
With a senior point guard this year, Brady is counting heavily on Townsel to assume more responsibility in the future.
"When he comes back, we've got him penciled in the start for three years and run the team," Brady said. "It's a good situation for him and he seems to be having a good time, enjoying it and learning like most freshmen do. I think he'll be a really fine player for us, not only this year, but the years to come."