When the weather turns cold, it’s time to go indoors.
High school basketball season is underway, and the area schools are not just relying on experience to achieve their basketball goals this season. Several local squads are full of underclassmen starters. Some will learn the hard way, some will be the teachers.
Here is a look at this season’s returning stars, under-the-radar impacters and coaches’ outlooks on their team’s in the 2016-17 prep basketball season. Starting with boys basketball, the girls basketball preview will run later this week.
Brunswick; Record 2-0
Perhaps no team enters the season with higher expectations than the 2015 state champion Brunswick Pirates. Although the Pirates fell short of a title defense — bounced in the second round of the playoffs in 2016 — head coach Chris Turner’s expectations for his own team are still high.
“We expect, No. 1, to get back in the tournament,” Turner said. “We’re focusing on being in the best shape we can be in and playing the best defense we can play.”
Turner manages an upperclassman roster that he said is a big advantage, since several key pieces from last season’s lineup are still intact. He expects some bumps in the road when it comes to adapting reserves to the pace of play, but the Pirates look poised for a shot at the region championship during its first season in Region 2-6A.
Returning star: College of Charleston commit Kymani Dunham will get the most attention from opposing defenses.
The 6-foot-8 senior power forward no longer has the distraction of deciding where he’ll get his college education and play at the next level. Now Turner said Dunham is focused on improving his basketball I.Q. to accompany the wealth of athleticism in his lanky frame.
“If he stays around a certain weight, if he outruns the ball he’s almost unstoppable at this level,” Turner said.
Under the radar: Turner pointed out Dereck Lampkin is currently leading the team in rebounds in his senior season.
Turner said, in the first two games, he’s averaged around 20 points and eight rebounds as a 6-foot-2 guard with little varsity experience heading into the season.
“He’s a senior leader plays harder than anyone else and works as hard as anyone on the team,” Turner said. “He didn’t play much varsity (last season) and improved as much as anyone.”
Glynn Academy; Record 2-1
Glynn Academy is one of a couple area schools with basketball teams under new management.
Head coach Terrance Haywood is optimistic about his team this season, and he’s not totally starting from scratch. Several key pieces on last year’s team is back in the starting five.
“I’ve got a good group of kids,” Haywood said. “They’re unselfish players and we’re learning about each other on the fly.”
Like his counterpart at Brunswick, he has postseason goals from his team.
“Our goal this year is to get into the state playoffs, and we want to play for a region championship,” Haywood said.
Returning stars: Durand Green and Dominique Walker are two returners Haywood said will impact Glynn Academy most this season.
Both Walker and Green are multi-year starters trying to help the Red Terrors earn hardware in their senior seasons. Green led the Red Terror’s offense with 24 points against Savannah High School earlier this season, and Walker led the team with 12 rebounds in the same game.
“Durand is the leader of our team,” Haywood said. “Dominique brings an inside-outside post presence.”
Under the radar: Haywood expects a pair of juniors to swoop in and impact the team.
Shooting guard Santana Young has proved to be a formidable scoring presence for the Red Terrors, posting 16 points against Savannah this season.
Haywood added that transfer Syron Noyes will serve as an impact small forward.
“(Noyes will) be aggressive on the defensive end, run the floor, rebound and do whatever we need to do to win,” Haywood said.
Frederica Academy; Record 2-0
Off to a solid start in 2016 — including a game-winning 3-pointer with time expiring against Valwood Tuesday — Frederica is building its program under a new head coach with over 30 years of coaching experience.
Carl Nash has spent time as a coach in the NAIA (Spring Hill College), Southeastern Conference (Auburn), Atlantic Coast Conference (Clemson) and 10 years as an associate head coach at Georgia Southern. He also spent time overseas, coaching professional basketball for five years.
Frederica might be in good hands, and it's not just the short term. While most young squads have to balance young rosters with inexperience, Frederica’s young standouts already have variety experience.
Frederica’s biggest strength, he said, is flexibility.
“We’ve go some mixes and matches that are going to help us be a team that’s not just an inside team or an outside team,” Nash said. “That keeps teams honest defending us.”
Returning stars: A pair of sophomores, Jaylin Simpson and Ja’Shawn Sheffield, are the athletic backbone of Frederica’s starting five. Sheffield uses his big body as a presence on the boards, while Simpson is one of the Knight’s consistent scoring threats, most scoring 13 points in Frederica’s win over Valwood.
“I think we have some talent, it’s a young but talented group,” Nash said. “We have a really good sophomore class and a couple of juniors playing for us.”
Under the radar: Only “under the radar” because he didn’t play long enough to make a ping on last season’s radar, Jason Angelich returns after tearing his ACL early in his 2015 campaign.
Nash said the work he put in during post season rehab is showing in his good condition to start the 2016 season. Angelich is also adapting to a new team. Tearing his ACL in his junior season meant he didn’t play with then-freshmen Simpson and Sheffield last season. He’s adapting, Nash said, and the seasoned coach knows he’s open to learning.
“The thing about him is he’s very skilled, not fleetest of foot but he’s skilled,” Nash said. “The more he plays the better he’ll get.”
Camden County; Record: 0-1
A 21-6 record and region title in 2016, plus a second round playoff berth should bode well for the Wildcats in their first season in class 7A, right?
Not so fast. That 2015-16 squad departed 11 of its 13 players last season, and head coach Billy Moore is nearly starting from scratch.
“We’re still trying to identify guys who can play at this level and building it back to where we need to be,” Moore said.
Camden’s first regular season game was against none other than Brunswick, a 65-35 loss.
“That doesn’t define us as a team. We’re better than what we showed,” Moore said.
Returning star: Junior R.J. Goss is going to play a bigger role this season than he did in his sophomore campaign, according to Moore.
He scored eight points against Brunswick, and Moore said the more time he gets on the court, the better he’ll adapt as the season progresses.
“I knew there would be some growing pains because the speed of the game changes (from junior varsity to varsity),” Moore said. “He learned a lot from the Brunswick game, and hopefully he’ll transition into the coming games better.”
Under the radar: Incoming freshman Kent Garard is a starter for Camden at small forward.
Moore said Garard, at 6-foot-3, handles the ball and shoots well, but he is concerned about the team’s lack of depth that forces a freshman into the fold.
“That’s good and bad,” Moore said. “It’s not a good sign we have freshman starting in 7A basketball but it will pay dividends down the road.”