The season really never ends for the Newton boys’ basketball team, which is hard at work four months after its last game.
The Rams’ summer league team has been practicing through Friday before beginning the summer camp circuit this weekend.
Newton travels to Mercer for a team camp Saturday, playing other high school summer-league squads from around the state.
The Rams return six players and three starters from the 2012-13 season team, which went 16-10.
Of Newton’s three returning starters, two are seniors, Jalen Glover and Taylor Hawkins. Both will be counted on as scorers this season, and Newton coach Rick Rasmussen feels that will also be the case in summer action.
“Jalen and Taylor will be better, and they were already good,” Rasmussen said.
“Taylor and Jalen were All-Region players, and Jalen will average in the mid-to-higher teens when he was at about 12 per game last year, and Jalen should be over 15. D.J. (Hill) should be in double figures, too.”
Hill, a junior, will be in his second straight season as a starter, showing improvements during the Rams two weeks of summer practice. Newton’s other three returning players are forward Brandon Lybrand, point guard Caylen Gooch and forward Tarik Rogers. Also figuring to be in the Rams’ 2013-14 lineup is freshman Darvin Jones, a scorer who reminds Rasmussen of Winthrop starter Derrick Henry.
“From there, there is a good crop of guys who were on the JV team last year, who are ready to step up,” Rasmussen said.
Now is the perfect time for those newcomers to show Rasmussen what they can do against other high school starters in summer camp leagues. Newton will face teams such as Loganville, Greater Atlanta Christian, Dacula, Tucker, Miller Grove and Mill Creek from Saturday through the end of the summer schedule on June 22.
“Right now, we have great chemistry,” Rasmussen said. “I’m very excited about that. We don’t have anybody with a bad attitude and that makes a world of difference.”
The 2013-14 Rams will once again be stout on defense and based in fundamentals, but will also be strong in transition.
“This team is good on the open floor, and pretty strong and physical, too,” Rasmussen said. “We don’t have a lot of size, but they really get after it and really give a great effort.”
Rasmussen hopes that effort continues into the regular season after it develops throughout the next week. Newton will participate in the North Georgia Hoops league, playing games at Monroe and Apalachee Monday, June 17 through June 20. The Rams will then participate in the University of Georgia Team Camp June 22.
Rounding out the summer schedule is the Georgia College and State Team Camp in Milledgeville from June 23-25.
“The biggest thing is this is an exciting group,” Rasmussen said. “They’re fun to coach. They get after it and they play really hard.”