Junior guard Jeremie Tyler averaged 26.9 minutes scoring about 9 points per game last season, but Ball State men's basketball will be without his experience for the first half of the season after being suspended for a violation of team rules.

“It will be really important for our guards to step up, especially Tayler [Persons], to lead in his point guard position,” head coach James Whitford said.

Persons is eligible to play after sitting out last year as a transfer per NCAA rules. He averaged 13.1 points and 3.7 assists per game during his freshman year at Northern Kentucky.

Coach Whitford said returning guards Francis Kiapway and Ryan Weber will need to keep doing what they did last season, but it is important for Persons to establish his role on the offense.

“As a point guard and new player to the team, Tayler Persons has to have a leadership role on the court,” Whitford said. “For Tayler, it is really important to establish that chemistry of running a team.”

Whether that is through a suspension or injury, almost every team loses a player at some point, and Whitford said Ball State has enough depth to adjust in Tyler’s absence.

“We are fortunate we have good experience,” Whitford said. “I have confidence in our other guards to get the job done while JT is out.”

Persons will get his first shot at replacing Tyler when Ball State hosts the University of Indianapolis in a pre-season exhibition at 7 p.m Nov. 3.