If you've watched Lakewood High School boys basketball over the last couple of seasons, you're likely very familiar with Quentin Hodge. Looking at this year's roster though, you might not be as familiar with anyone else.
The Gators were very …
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The Gators were very senior heavy in the 2018-19 season and they will be again this time around, but outside of Hodge, most of those seniors don't come with a ton of varsity experience. They also have a new head coach, as Ed Scott takes over the program from Bryan Brown, who took the same job at Sumter. While Scott's squad doesn't come into the season with a ton of experience, his seniors are providing great leadership.
"We have a very good senior class. They're not experienced, but they're older guys that kind of lead by example," said Scott. "Dorien Glover and Kvon Selph, (DaQuan) Rhodes, those guys are taking on the leadership roles and they're buying into the process."
One of the most helpful things for Scott early in his tenure is having a player like Hodge be a rock for this inexperienced squad. Hodge was voted one of the top five senior boys in 4A by the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association after averaging 13 points and five rebounds per game last season. Scott is thankful for the impact Hodge is able to have both on and off the court.
"It's huge having a guy like Quentin. The big thing about Quentin is not even the things he can do on the court, it's him as a young man and him being a leader," said the Lakewood head coach. "He sets the standard for the other kids and shows them the ropes and just the expectations and level of commitment that we want from everyone."
The Gators are still working on figuring out what rotations work best because they have so many new players fighting for minutes. Because of the newcomers, Scott is hoping to develop some flexibility as he tries to find which players fit certain roles.
"We're in the process of working out a lot of their skill sets, so we're trying to make guys comfortable doing more than one thing," said Scott. "At times we have to play four guards and only one post, so we have to do different things like more trapping and things to create turnovers, because we're not as tall and not as good on the glass at certain times. In certain lineups, we do have decent size, especially when you have a 6-(foot)-4(-inch) point guard (Hodge) out there on the court, so some lineups we have good size and play back a little more because we're able to rebound and contest shots better.
"It's all about trying to learn each other and figuring out what works best."
Every team the Gators face this season is going to make stopping Hodge its top priority, so Lakewood will need to develop other options offensively. Scott has seen some players he expects to break out this season.
"We have Jaqcorey Melton. He's really a great athlete. He's working on his skill set every day. He's very good on the defensive end," said Scott. "We've got Dorien Glover; he's a more than capable shooter. He's a guy that if you leave open, I think he'll be able to knock down some shots, as well as Rhodes.
"Kvon has been big for us in the post, taking on the challenge of guarding the other team's best post player, and he's doing a very good job of finding his opportunities underneath. I think we're going to be -- by mid-year or so -- we're going to start becoming a complete team. It will be more than just Quentin Hodge; it'll be the whole Lakewood team."
Scott isn't trying to set goals of a certain number of wins. He wants to see his team improve every day and learn from its early season games as it prepares for Region IV and trying to make a push toward the playoffs.
"I think the team set their own expectations. I think that's the way we are," said Scott. "I think that the key is that we compete against ourselves. The goal is to get better each and every day, each practice, each game. I think if we do that, there's no telling how far we can go. I think the sky is the limit if we work hard, or we could be very mediocre if we don't. The key is to get the guys to know that and believe in themselves."
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