Young team faces new season

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Nansemond River varsity boys’ basketball team listens as Coach Ed Young talks during preseason practice on Tuesday afternoon. Nine players graduated last season, leaving Young with the task of replacing more players than he ever has before in his eight-year tenure at NR.

Nansemond River varsity boys’ basketball coach Ed Young knows his team has talent, but how good they will be this season is more of mystery to him than any other team in his eight-year tenure at NR.

“This year anything and everything could happen,” he said. “It’s the most kids we’ve had to replace since I’ve been here, the least amount of returning starters since I’ve been here. We have 14 on the roster now. Only four played varsity ball here last year.”

Last year, the Warriors went 20-5, won the Southeastern District tournament, and made it to the second round of the regional tournament before losing to Hampton.

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The Warriors lost nine players from that team, including four starters.

The Warriors will miss all-district performers like Dontrell Brite, whom Young said was the best point guard in the district and now plays at Mount Olive College. Shannon Evans was the other half of the backcourt and the leading scorer in the district, who has played at Hargrave Military Academy and just committed to the University of Buffalo.

Even with those losses, the Warriors show promise, but the relative inexperience that now dominates the roster will make things a challenge. Young felt the biggest challenge the team will face this year is being consistent.

“We played a ton of games in the off-season, different leagues, different camps, and at times we looked really good, other times I had no clue who was on the court,” he said. “We would go from 15 (points) up to down two in a matter of three minutes … Summer was a roller coaster ride better than you get at Busch Gardens, and it was free.”

Young expects the beginning of the season to be rough as the group finds its footing, but when and if it does, he likes the team’s chances not only to return to regionals, but also to win more than just one game there.

“If this team sticks to the plan, we could be a very hard team to play late come playoff time,” he said.

This year’s squad has five seniors, seven juniors, one sophomore and one freshman.

Young is expecting key contributions and leadership from the one returning starter and the player who has currently played under Young the longest, senior forward/guard Kendric Washington.

“He usually covers the top offensive player on the other team,” Young said. “He’s our best defender. He needs to take on a more increased scoring role this year. Last year he only averaged 5.4 points a game. He needs to triple that this year.”

Ed Drew will be counted on at power forward and center. Young related that Drew averaged about 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season, and he will be expected to double that this year.

“He’s capable of averaging a double-double,” Young said. “In fact, he did it most of the summer. He had a good off-season.”

Junior guard Khalil Carroll began last year at cross-town rival Lakeland and transferred to Nansemond River in March.

“Right now, he looks to be in the lead for the point guard position, and it’s been a lot for him to learn our system,” Young said. “But he’s coming along.”

Young also indicated that he is looking forward to getting production from junior guard Devon Oakley, the leading scorer from last year’s junior varsity team with 17 points a game.

“He’s the most versatile kid we have,” Young said. “He, technically, could play all five positions — the only kid we have who can do that.”

The Warriors play their first game on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at Grassfield.