Arkansas State's Edward Townsel (24) is defended by Murray State's Isaiah Canaan (3) earlier this season. Townsel played at Starkville High School. (Photo by Mike Strasinger, AP)
Ed Townsel continues to improve as a basketball player.
Two years removed from helping the Starkville Yellowjackets win the Class 6A State Championship, Townsel is making strides as a part of the Arkansas State program.
Townsel saw action in all 32 games last season as a freshman for the Red Wolves. He has started the 29 games he's played this season.
"It took some getting used to at first, but I've come along and playing real comfortable now," Townsel said about adjusting at Arkansas State.
Townsel has increased his scoring average with the Red Wolves from 4.8 points per game to 9.8 points per outing this season.
Arkansas State coach John Brady said Townsel has handled the college experience well even after having more thrown at him.
"He was our backup point guard last year and now we're playing him at the point and 2 spot," Brady said. "He missed a couple of games a couple of weeks ago due to an injury to his shoulder, but he's bounced back and had some great games for us.
"We love Ed. He's been great. He's a great basketball player and great guy to be around. He's conscientious about his studies and schoolwork. We're glad to have him here."
Townsel averaged 19 points and eight rebounds per game in his senior season with the Yellowjackets. He averaged 23 points per outing as a junior at SHS.
One of Townsel's strengths in high school was his ability to play defense and make steals.
That continues to be the case in college.
He has 62 steals for the Red Wolves and his average per game ranks in the top 30 in the country.
"I try to work on (defense) day in and day out in practice," Townsel said. "Even in pick up ball, I work on my defense and getting those steals. I try to do anything to get some easy baskets and help our team win."
Brady says Townsel's "anticipation and quickness" enable him to be in position to get so many steals.
"He's learned to be a much better defender," Brady said. "Now he knows when to gamble and when he can't. He used to gamble a lot, but he has become more sound in that regard because some of the players he plays against are quicker than he is. "
Brady thought Townsel could play immediately as a freshman and he did.
Now that he's starting and making such an impact in his sophomore season, Brady believes Townsel can become one of those special players at Arkansas State.
"There are a lot of good things about Ed, but the best thing he's got two more years with us and he's really going to leave a mark here when he finishes his career," Brady said. "He has matured and I think his next two seasons are going to be really outstanding. He has a chance to make an all-league team. He can be one of the top 10-12 players in this league for sure."
Townsel's focus will be on helping Arkansas State's basketball program be the best it can be. He said anything personal he gains from it will be a plus.
"I'm going to keep working and however the future turns out, that's the way it's going to be," Townsel said.
The Red Wolves have records of 12-17 overall and 6-8 in the Sun Belt this season.
Arkansas State makes a road trip to Western Kentucky on Thursday and Townsel looks forward to finishing out the schedule strong.
"We've had a couple of challenges we haven't overcome all the way, but we're getting better and coming along," Townsel said. "We're going to make a good run at the end. We haven't played our best game of the year yet."
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