By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Goodbye Jaylen Fisher and the Bolton Wildcats and adiós to the other District 14-3A powers Arlington, Cordova and Bartlett.
But before you breath a sigh of relief as a Millington Trojan Basketball fan, Head Coach Rob Sabau will tell you the new league of District 15-2A is just as tough.
“Haywood and Ripley were in State for Class 2A last year,” he said. “Covington is right there with them usually. Jackson North Side returns their whole team which won 15 games last year. A lot of people are picking them to win the district this year.”
Add Liberty Tech, Jackson Central-Merry and Ripley to the mix, the Trojans have a full plate ahead of them learning their new league throughout 2015-16.
Millington enters the Class 2A graduating their leading scorer in Julian Daughtry. Sabau said it’s obvious in what the Trojans will miss with the departure of Daughtry.
“Losing Julian is bad but it’s not that bad,” he said. “We ended up relying solely on Julian last year. This year if these guys step up, and so far they have in the summer and preseason, we won’t have to rely on any one person. We’ll have multiple weapons.”
Sabau said players he expects to step up this season are Cameron Crawford, Colby Hollowell, Aaron Peerey, Preston Macon and Kelvin Jones.
Jones sent shockwaves through his old district last year with a powerful dunk that rocked the Arlington High School Gymnasium. Sabau said he hopes to see more of that from his senior guard/forward.
“ He can go play some four for us,” he said. “But he’s a guard. Kelvin’s game has matured and he’s maturing. He’s gotten stronger and put some time in. He’s stepping up trying to be a leader. Kelvin as a sophomore and as a junior shied away from the contact.
“Now he’s going in forcing the contact,” Sabau added. “He’s not just relying on his jump shot. He’s doing it all. He can post up or take you off the dribble. He’s real good in transition. He can get the ball off the rim and go up the floor.”
Sabau said Jones will have some interior help from fellow senior Peerey.
“Looking for him to be a little bit more of a threat down low offensively,” he said. “He’s come along very well there. His feet are better and he’s started to develop some moves down low.”
The Trojan coaching staff are also working with a 6’4 freshman Justin Austin. On the perimeter Millington will look for solid guard play from Crawford and Hollowell both in shooting and the defensive side.
Sabau said entering a new league, his main focus is getting his player to gel and buy into the coaching.
“It’s all an unknown,” he said. “We’re going into a new district. It’s not only a new district, but it’s also a new class. It’s kind of hard because you know some of the team. It’s just hard to tell with us coming from 3A. We might know the names of the team, but actually know nothing about them.
“This team has a lot of potential if they just buy into what the coaches are telling them,” Sabau concluded. “We have a lot of pieces. We have some size. We have multiple kids who are big. We have some pieces to where we can play a tradition 5 and 4 together. We’ve got good athletes. We have everything. They have to put it all together and allow themselves to be coached.”