The Millington Trojans have graduated enough players the last two seasons for a quality pick-up game with reserves.
Head Coach Rob Sabau has seen 15 basketball players receive their high school diploma losing standouts like Kelby Hollowell, Jerrick Newsome, Roddarius Pitts, Jordan Browning, Willie Mudbone and El Paso Pitts.
Fast forward to the 2014-15 campaign, and the list of returning stars appears to be much smaller. But Sabau is quick to tell anyone he has a solid corps. of talent, seniors and potential coming back.
“I expect them to do what I expect everyone of my teams to do,” he said. “I expect them to play hard every possession and give themselves a chance to win. That’s true every year. I don’t think this group, although we might not have all the names, any different from any other group I’ve had here.
“We may not pass the eye test like we did 2 years ago,” Sabau continued. “We may not have the straight up scoring ability like we did with Roddarius last year or the experience with Jordan Browning, but we do have Julian Daughtry. He has the chance to be the best basketball player to come out of this school in a long,long, long time.”
Daughtry is one of Sabau’s seniors and returns with the most varsity experience. Over the summer Daughtry has improved his all-around game on offense and defense. But Sabau said his maturity and leadership skills on and off the court have impressed him the most in the preseason.
Daughtry’s fellow seniors are Demarius Curry, Andrew Banks, George Anderson and Carlos Lipsey.
Lipsey, known for his soccer skills on campus, will use his athletic frame to be a tough defender. Anderson will provide size in the paint and rebounding.
Sabau noted a player to watch out for on both ends will be Banks, improving as a scorer. And Curry, a standout football player and high jumper, will use his athleticism all over the court on offense and defense.
There is also a junior class expected to contribute this season with Kelby’s little brother Kolby Hollowell. A shooter in the Class of 2016 is Cameron Crawford. Then there is the x-factor for Millington in Kelvin Jones.
“He has so much potential at 6’2, 6’3,” Sabau noted. “He’s so athletic. He’s got good skills, we just need to get his motor running. If he can get his motor running at a high level and at a consistent level, he’s going to make us a much better basketball team. We’re still working on that.”
Sabau said he will be working on the overall team on a few aspects heading into the Nov. 13 opener.
“We don’t have a lot of size,” he said. “But that’s no different from last year. We still won 12 ball games and had a chance to win 7 or 8. They did what I asked them to do a lot of the time last year to put themselves in a position to win.”
Sabau said whatever line-up he puts on the floor will have to adjust and overcome the size disadvantage.
In a league featuring District 14-3A favorites the Bolton Wildcats, Sabau said in the preseason the Trojans need to focus on one team.
As the staff and Sabau keep the Trojans minds focused on in-house preparation, the veteran coach said this year his players have to know their responsibilities in order to have success.
“Role identification is going to be important,” he said. “Two years ago, we had 10 chiefs and no Indians. We struggled with that. This year we may only have a couple of chiefs and a bunch of Indians.
“But if the Indians think they’re chiefs, that’s going to be a problem,” Sabau concluded. “If people understand what they’re expected to do and only do what they’re asked to do and do that until they’re asked to do more, we’ll be OK. We’ll have that chance to make that progression and make that improvement.”
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