It is no secret Creek Wood lost four major contributors on the hardwood from last season.
Kaden Austin, Raekwon Nesbitt, Rex Edmondson, and Cole Adams all graduated.
Those four led this program to back-to-back sectional births.
No easy feat.
Certainly, an even harder one to replace that kind of production.
However, there are several reasons to believe it will be possible.
The first two being the starters who return.
The point guard position is much like the QB on a football field.
A guy who understands the system, facilitates for others, and generally controls how a game plays out.
The Red Hawks return a very talented and mature PG in Jace Harrell.
Harrell really came on in the back half of last season showing a significant amount of athleticism as well as a healthy control over his offense and his team.
Having him back should allow several others guys to grow comfortable in a new role early on without significant issues on the court.
The other piece Head Coach Charles Taylor will have back is just a sophomore, but started almost every game last season.
Jamison Ford is another year older in every way.
Seemingly bigger, stronger, faster, and with an even higher basketball IQ, Ford looks to take a major step forward this season.
This is where things get interesting.
The experience in a lot of ways stops with Harrell and Ford.
Before we discuss all the fresh faces we will hear from this season, I want to highlight a guy who played significant spurts last year, but not necessarily a lot.
An x-factor this season for the Red Hawks could be Braden Dawson.
Dawson did not play much early in the year, then saw his minutes and contributions explode, before fading away late in the season.
What he showed in the time he did play though was a tenacious ability to grab rebounds, specifically on the offensive end.
He created many second and even third chances for his team last season.
This year he seems poised to do it again having really bulked up and made an effort to grow defensively.
He will need to not just create second and third chances this season though, he will need to convert on putbacks and keep the opposing team from achieving those same opportunities.
Several other guys got time last year, however, it either came in garbage time or early in the season prior to an injury.
Bryson Harding, Andrew Bruce, Clint Morgan, and Tanner Lampley will all need to take very big steps forward this season if Creek Wood hopes to even approach the success of the last two seasons.
As we delve deeper into each young man let’s start with Bruce.
Andrew Bruce is a name Red Hawk fans are most definitely familiar with.
Starting LB in football, more than likely your starting catcher this season on the diamond, Bruce does it all.
Though he may not be the greatest basketball player, Bruce is two things.
An Athlete and a leader.
He also is a senior.
Having played for Coach Taylor and with his teammates for several years now he could be an asset.
He will need to use his physical size to aid his team defensively and rebounding.
As well, he will need to assert himself as a leader and keep this team focused and motivated.
Next is Harding.
A pure shooter that Coach Taylor even remarked “he is a year older and much more confident shooter, he has always been able to shoot it. We saw flashes last year, where he was guarding those guys that graduated.”
High praise from Coach Taylor and something to keep an eye on.
If Harding can be even half the knock-down shooter Adams was last year and can show his ability to guard Nesbitt level athletes as well as Austin level shooters, he could be the breakout star this year for Creek Wood.
FInally, Lampley and Morgan.
We put them together because they both suffered the same fate.
After showing real promise and earning some promising minutes, both suffered injuries that derailed their seasons.
That isn’t to say either suffered a devastating injury.
We saw both play in games down the stretch, but neither looked as good as they did early in the year.
According to Coach Taylor, “Tanner had some real good moments last year…same with Clint. They just bring length and athleticism.”
Creek Wood will need length and athelicism as well as discipline from its entire team this season if they hope too reach similar levels of success.
Near the end of my time with Coach Taylor he pointed out “As good as those four seniors were for us last year and have been for four years, this is just a different style team. In terms of just physically what we are, all the way down into our freshman the length and athleticism we have. We hope to use that to our advantage.”
While they sit in a new district, Creek Wood’s path did not get any easier.
Their schedule, like always does boast several great matchups.
Check it out below, and look forward to another great Red Hawk season on the hardwood.