Learning on the job: Gamecocks will have talented but young squad

By DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 11/28/17

The Sumter High School varsity boys basketball team was a veteran squad last year with nine seniors on the roster. The Gamecocks rode that experience to an 18-7 overall and a second straight region …

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Learning on the job: Gamecocks will have talented but young squad

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The Sumter High School varsity boys basketball team was a veteran squad last year with nine seniors on the roster. The Gamecocks rode that experience to an 18-7 overall and a second straight region title under head coach Shawn Jones.

Needless to say, with all of those seniors gone, SHS will be fielding a much younger squad. Jones, however, thinks his squad will be able to make a push for another Region VI-5A crown and hopefully a deeper run in the state playoffs.

"It's a talented group that we have," said Jones, whose squad opens its season today at home against Hartsville beginning at approximately 7:30 p.m. "it's a lot of guys off of a junior varsity team that lost just one game. I think we're going to end up being pretty good. We just may have to take some bumps and bruises early on."

While Sumter may take some bumps and bruises, they should be able to hand some out as well with their size. Their top returnee is 6-foot-10-inch senior Isiah Moore, who recently signed with College of Charleston. The Gamecocks will also have 6-7 junior Calvin Felder, who has several NCAA Division I offers and 6-6, 220-pound junior Eric Watts.

"We're going to make a point to try and get it inside a lot," said Jones, whose team lost to Lexington in the second round of the state playoffs last season. "Moore and Felder play some on the perimeter, but when Watts is in there we're going to try and get it into him. Eric Watts is a bull inside."

Moore was selected to the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association's 5A all-state team last season. He averaged around 12.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and two blocked shots per game.

Moore and Felder will be in the starting lineup today against the Red Foxes. Keshawn Croskey will be in the lineup as well along with Cody McCoy and Tyree Smalls.

Others expected to be in the rotation for the Gamecocks are Davontay Singleton, Davontae Flowers, Zykiem Jackson, Cam Singleton and Edwin Johnson.

Jackson may not play against Hartsville. He was cleared to practice on Monday for the first time since breaking his collarbone as the starting quarterback on the football team.

Jones plans to continue to use multiple looks defensively.

"We're going to use a lot of different styles," he said. "We're going to use our halfcourt game, work out of the zone and out of man as well."