Hoops season is already upon us, and with that we want to take time to get a sneak peek at our three GHSA basketball programs before we get too far into year.
This week we will offer a preview for Alcovy, Eastside and Newton’s boys’ teams. In next Sunday’s print edition, we will preview the girls’ teams. Make sure you visit our website, covnews.com, throughout the week for player and team feature stories and game coverage of these teams, as well as our private school squads.
Coach: Mack Hardwick, in his third season.
2015-16 Record: 4-21 overall, 1-10 in Region 2-AAAAAA
2015-16 State Tournament: None.
Key Players Lost: Coach Hardwick said his team lost five seniors from last season due to graduation but that the brunt of his team’s talent will return.
Key Players Returning: Koby Perry G; Carnacion Cosby (F/C); Terrell Steel, Jaylan Wyatt and Jaylan Middlebrooks.
Key Games on the Schedule: Eastside (Nov. 12); Heritage (Jan. 3)
Coaches Outlook: Coach Mark Hardwick knows what he has from his veterans. But he believes that the key to improvement from last year’s 4-21 mark is the ability to get production from his younger, talented underclassmen. Going into his third season, Hardwick said he wants to continue building upon his emphasis on defense, fundamentals and the ability to consistently execute plays.
Coach Says: “This year I want to make sure we’re concentrating on defense because if they’re not concentrating on defense, I couldn’t care less about all the other offensive accolades that they can manage to accomplish. That’s because I feel like it’s defense that’s going to win games and win championships for us. These kids who have been in my system a little longer, I’m really looking to see how sophomores last year will look this year as juniors. I’m also looking at some guys who were freshmen last year that will make more impact as sophomores. Our record wasn’t what I’d like it to be last year, so this year I want to see more team camaraderie and team basketball. Fundamentals are key. One strength I do think we have is leadership from guys like senior Koby Perry. Some of those football guys like him are leaders and they’ve shown that on the football field, and I want to see them bring that over to the football court.”
Coach: Brent Wren, in his third season.
2015-16 Record: 20-10 overall, 10-5 in Region 4-AAAA
2015-16 State Tournament: Lost 70-68 to Westover in first round.
Key Players Lost: Isaiah Miller (Transferred to Newton); Joshua Cammon (Transferred to Tucker)
Key Players Returning: Keiondre Perry SG; Dez Dyer G; Josh Wilson, PG; Jesse Walden.
Key Newcomers: PG Torrie Crawford; SG Jerry Mays.
Key Games on the Schedule: vs. Newton (Dec. 2); vs. Woodward Academy (Dec. 10); vs. Henry County (Dec. 13).
2016-17 Outlook: Coach Brent Wren honestly admits that he’s not quite sure what to expect yet from his team. The once highly regarded trio of Isaiah Miller, Keiondre Perry and Josh Cammon — players Wren said came in together — was broken up with the transfers of Miller and Cammon. Perry remains, however. And after a 30 point performance in last week’s scrimmage, Wren thinks people are getting ready to see exactly how dominant the 6-foot-4 combo guard can be. Dez Dyer didn’t play last year, but his return this year could make up for Miller’s loss. Wren says that though his squad is young in some places, he feels like his team is a more cohesive group.
Coach Says: Our team chemistry is a lot better,” he said. “One of the differences between last year and this year is that I’ve enjoyed coaching this group a whole lot more. Sometimes when you have those players that, in a sense, feel they’ve already arrived, they become kind of difficult to coach. But I haven’t had those issues with this group. Everything I’ve asked them to do, they’ve done day in and day out. I think we’ll reap the rewards of that. Our team focus is a whole lot better this year.”
Coach: Rick Rasmussen, entering his 12th season.
2015-16 Record: 26-5, 8-2 in Region 2-AAAAAA
2015-16 State Tournament: Lost 64-59 to Westlake in Class AAAAAA Final Four.
Key Players Returning: SG J.D. Notae; PG Ashton Hagans, PF DeAndrae Butler; G Darvin Jones; C Josh Tukes; C Armani Harris.
Key Newcomers: Isaiah Miller (transferred from Eastside).
Key Games on the Schedule: vs. Henry County (Nov. 18); vs. Southwest Atlanta Christian (Nov. 19); at Eastside (Dec. 2); at Grayson (Dec. 13).
2016-17 Outlook: Coach Rick Rasmussen may not explicitly admit it but it’s easy to tell that the elusive state championship is something he feels is closer to his grasp than ever before. Last season’s squad was, perhaps, a breakthrough team of sorts. The Final Four appearance and loss were both boons to the Rams’ offseason preparation. To a man, every player who experienced that heartbreaking loss to Westlake — a game in which Newton led most of the way — said emphatically that they don’t want to experience that again. Players like Ashton Hagans and Armani Harris could be a part of a special class of 2019. The transfer of former Eastside sharpshooter Isaiah Miller gives the Rams another scorer.
Coach Says: “We’ve had a lot of talented teams here, but this team has the chance to be one of our best. I think just from a talent standpoint, this will be the most talented team I’ve had, top to bottom. We don’t have the big 6-foot-9 guys who can jump over the rim, but I think we scheme well, and we have speed and talent that can offset our lack of size. You always need some bounces and some breaks in order to win it all. And we play in such a tough region, but I think this is the kind of team that can get us there.”