Truth be told, it was Mak Manciel, the 6’3″ sophomore transfer guard, who was supposed to be the Red Wolves young gun of 2023. Much was expected from the First Team National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American, especially with the departures of Norchad Omier (Miami) and Marquis Eaton (graduation). However, a torn ACL in October thwarted that narrative.
Coach Mike Balado and the Red Wolves needed somebody from the freshmen pool to level-up, and while Izaiyah Nelson has certainly proven himself a talented shot blocker and rebounder, it’s 6’1″ guard Terrance Ford who has made the deepest impact. Now featured regularly in the starting lineup, Ford in his last four games has averaged 12 points per game while shooting better-than 50% from three-point range.
In the recent loss to Louisiana, Coach Balado made it a point to call out Ford’s “phenomenal play,” Ford finished Thursday evening with 14 points a four assists. While relying on young players may not be producing victories, the minutes are valuable for Nelson and Ford, two freshman acclimating to the college level.
“You got a young team. You got guys who are playing major minutes for you that are 18 and 19 years old [who are inexperienced],” said Balado when discussing the team’s recent losing skid. The team could use more seasoned players. Until then, the development of Ford and other youngsters is an ongoing project.
In the age of NIL and a wide open transfer portal, is it even possible to retain the services of raw but evolving players like Terrance Ford? It’s a fair question after Omier’s departure, and one wonders if the chances of Ford leaving increases with his point totals.
Coach Balado can’t hide Ford on the bench – not with the injuries adding up and with Ford acclimating himself so well in the starting lineup. So Red Wolves fans will have to do what has become accustomed – to wait, see and bear the slings and arrows of what comes to bear.
PHOTO CREDIT: Carla Wehmeyer / Arkansas State