Editor’s note – This is the 12th in a 16-part series of high school basketball previews counting down to the scheduled opening night of the regular season Jan. 4.
The Greenwood boys’ basketball team will have a lot of turnover this season, losing nine players from last year, but that hasn’t stopped the Gators from setting lofty goals heading into 2021.
With Marc Grant the lone returning senior and a deep and talented junior class – led by one of the top players in the region in Cade Stinnett – Greenwood is hopeful to make a run at not just a district crown, but a region title as well.
“Our junior class is one of the top two, top three, classes in the region,” Greenwood coach Will McCoy said. “Cade had such a great sophomore campaign and a couple of others – Brakton Stinnett and Will Gaddis – played a big role for us throughout last year. And then there is some other guys that had really good (junior varsity) years that put in a lot of work. I think they will shock a lot of people. One thing I have told the guys is outside of Marc and Cade, we will be really difficult to scout early on.”
Cade Stinnett had a breakout season last year, leading the team with 15.6 points a night and adding nearly five boards a night. McCoy said he expects Stinnett to be even better this year.
“Some kids would have had that sophomore season and been very complacent,” McCoy said. “He’s the true definition of a gym rat. He puts in so much time. During the COVID shutdown he was not a guy that I had to wonder what was going on. He was finding somewhere to go, someway to work out, someway to get shots up. He is a very realistic player. He knows his strengths. He’s sharpened those. He knows his weaknesses. He worked on those even harder.”
Grant showed flashes last season, averaging 10 points a night.
Along with the Stinnetts and Will Gaddis, the junior class includes Lofton Howard – a player that McCoy said will have a bigger role this year. Jax Buchanon will be asked to bring versatility, along with newcomer Aaron Brown, while Hunter Raymer is a good shooter that McCoy said is capable of providing an offensive boost. With most of this class seeing action at some point last season, McCoy said he expects this team will have a smoother transition than most teams with this much turnover.
“A lot of times early in the year you deal with that deer in the headlights look,” McCoy said. “I don’t think we will have as much of that, because some of those guys – whether they were in huge moments or end of game situations – they still had time on the floor in a varsity environment. They got a taste of that in some pretty crowded gyms. This year, I would think with the situation we are all in, it is going to be an even smoother transition for nerves and things like that – especially early. I’m hoping we are going to be able to avoid that because of some of the time they got (tense) last year.”
The Gators will be tested with a stronger schedule that McCoy said is designed for one thing – prepare Greenwood for success in District 14 and beyond.
“Anything can happen, but if you are able to secure that one, good things have happened the last 20 years for that team,” McCoy said. “That’s our goal is to win the district in the regular season. Hopefully that catapults us into a deep run that will start at Diddle Arena.”