It’s game week! Just a few days until the 2016-17 version of the Liberty Flames take the court! We continue our preseason coverage as we preview what to expect out of the guards.


It all starts and ends with John Dawson. He is the team’s leader both on and off the court. “Hopefully this year is great for him because he deserves to be remembered by some of the deposits he’s made,” McKay said. “And the better run we have as a team, the more he will be remembered.” After sitting out the fall semester last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Dawson led the team in scoring (13.4), rebounding (5.3), and assists (3.4). The Flames were much better as a team with Dawson in the lineup, going 10-11 against Division I opponents when Dawson played compared to an 0-8 mark without him. The senior can play either guard position and can affect the game in a multitude of ways.

Lovell Cabbil

Lovell Cabbil

Lovell Cabbil was the first recruit to commit to Coach McKay since his return to Liberty. Cabbil came in as a true freshman and started 31 games last year. He lead the team in steals (46) and free throw percentage (84.9%) and was 2nd on the team in assists (80), blocks (10), and points (316). Cabbil began the season at off guard, but transitioned to point guard after Dawson became eligible. McKay brought in 3 true point guards this year in Ray Chen, Xzavier Barmore, and Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz, so, it will be compelling to see where that leaves Cabbil. He will still see plenty of playing time, but will it be at point or off the ball?

Ray Chen is a graduate transfer from Belmont Abbey, a Division II school in Belmont, North Carolina. He led the Crusaders last year with 16 points and 3.5 assists per game, earning Conference Carolinas third team all-conference honors. He finished his Belmont Abbey career with over 1,000 career points scored. Chen provides veteran leadership in the backcourt, and he has the opportunity to earn a reserve role behind Dawson and Cabbil at guard.

Head coach Ritchie McKay describes Xzavier Barmore as the more skilled of his 3 incomers at guard. He comes from Seneca, South Carolina where he attended Seneca High School. Barmore is a decorated offensive player, but must improve his ball control and defensive skills to earn valuable playing time in a crowded backcourt.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz comes to Liberty after spending his final 3 seasons of high school at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen, Virginia, just outside of Richmond. Pacheco-Ortiz was named first team all-conference, all-state, all-region, and second team all-metro as a senior at Deep Run. He also has international experience playing as a member of the Puerto Rican national team on several different occasions.

Ryan Hiepler and Zach Farquhar are both walk-ons and will provide depth at the guard position.


Liberty must replace the production from 5th year senior Anthony Fields who played in all 32 games, starting 11, a season ago. Dawson and Cabbil have a year of experience at Liberty under their belt now, and should use that to better lead the team. Dawson was named preseason 1st team all Big South, and he has emerged this off-season as a leader both on and off the court. The Flames will likely go as far as their guards can take them.