Try-outs ended Tuesday night, and we have now had two practices. I like my team. We are, as presently constituted, eleven deep, and to a man, I am excited to coach every one of them. As these players will be central to the season’s story, I will introduce them in this post.
Jake has lived two doors down from me for the last seven years or so, but I didn’t get to know him until he played freshman basketball last year. Despite the occasional appearance of a basketball hoop in his driveway and a long, lanky frame, I did not figure Jake for a basketball player. My reservations were initially concerned when Jake took an extraordinary amount of time to recover from a sprained ankle last year. Once, Jake actually played, I recognized him as a fluid player with a knack for finding the ball. He was put in considerable work in the last 12 months and has improved in many facets of the game. He is a versatile player that I expect to play in multiple roles.
My first impression of Kensley was that he had not spent much of his childhood playing basketball. He was raw, but left-handed, jumped well and rebounded at full arm extension. He is also bright, and has few friends in standard classes. It must be said the Mr, Charm was reluctant to keep on the freshman team, but my wisdom prevailed. Kensley has an underrated competitive streak and leadership capabilities. He will be part of my post player platoon.
A compact, powerful left-handed point guard, who is an excellent running back and drummer in the group New Breed. RJ plays with great energy and enthusiasm and must continue to develop his confidence as a basketball player. He is an unselfish passer and we hope he can release his “inner gorilla”.
Daulton is big, and ostensibly slow, but has a knack for playing in an uptempo game. He has worked hard in the off-season to improve his skill, and stands a chance to play a much larger role than he did on the freshman team. I am particularly enthusiastic about his passing. He will join Kensley in our post platoon.
The only freshman among our group, he’s a tenacious on the ball defender with exceptional strength for a young player. I am confident he can and will guard a multitude of different players over the course of the season. Offensively he attacks the rim and is improved as a shooter. I value his physical and mental toughness.
Akeem is the only truly new player to the squad having not played in the summer. He is an athletic perimeter player with a good shot. He needs experience in organized basketball, but each day this week he has revealed a new facet of his game.
I put Show on my jv team last year as a freshman, and it didn’t work out. He decided to focus on football. Mr. Charm and I kept the door open, and this spring Show played WSBL ball with us and had a positive experience. After breaking his hand in the Spring football game, he missed most of the summer, but returned for the UCF team camp and played very well. Show gives us a dimension of athleticism on both ends of the floor that makes a difference.
Jacob is a clever point guard. Yet another player that I had to sell to Mr. Charm. He can dribble into traffic a bit too much, but despite a slim build he makes a ton of fun plays…..rebounds, steals and passes that few of the other kids can or will make. I really enjoy watching him play. He will split point guard duties with RJ Bradley.
His twin brother Jesus is with the varsity, and on the cut down day, Argenis was barely with me. He is long, but often off balance and prone to moments of unintentional comedy like his barefoot mile or his unforgettable falling turnover at Lake Brantley last season. That being said, his improvement over the last twelve months is astounding. I am uncertain how much he will play during the season, but in two practices he has produced several moments of “good basketball” which has made me comfortable with his inclusion in the team.
Dallas is an excellent shooter with a powerful body. He has a nice skill-set, and when properly motivated capable of dominating stretches of games. He is his own worst enemy on the mental side of the game, often beating himself up for mistakes and failing to play in the moment. I am challenged in coaching him as I have spent considerable time in the last year studying sports psychology. I am confident Dallas will make progress this season on the mental side of his game.
Elijah is our most creative scoring option mixing improbable drives to the basket, uncanny offensive rebounding, freakish energy and speed with a smooth shooting stroke. He dropped 34 of our 42 points in summer camp game against Hagerty. He is fun to watch. His challenge will be to channel the things he does well individually into an overall team concept.
We will play 23 games together over the next several months, and I will post after every one of them. I expect to win a bunch, and that will in some way define us, but the life experience and bond of our journey will forever be a part of us.
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