Western Tech boys basketball coach Mike Slepesky knows last season didn’t go well, but he is confident the players who went through the 3-19 campaign are determined to show improvement this year.
That starts around the basket, where he has more interior threats.
“I like that we have more height then what we did last year,” Slepesky said. “We have an inside presence, which will help us out for rebounding and will help us out for keeping teams honest.”
Sophomore KC Nwokedi (6-foot, 4 inches) generated optimism in the pre-season after a year getting acclimated on the court as a varsity freshman.
“We are very excited about him. He played very well at the play day,” Slepesky said. “He had a decent freshman campaign, but was still growing into his body and it appears since last season ended he has really worked on his post play.”
In addition to liking his physicality, Slepesky admires Nwokedi’s mid-range jumper and touch around the rim.
The coach is also impressed with senior co-captains Tyler Cook (5-9) and Joaquin Rice (6-0).
Point guard Cook is in his third year on the varsity.
“He's looking much more polished,” Slepesky said.
Cook’s leadership has also emerged in practice.
“He has kind of led in practice by example with finishing drills first and never slacking whenever we are out doing conditioning,” Slepesky said.
Although leading scorer Justin Wynn (20 points per game) graduated, the Wolverines are counting on Rice to pick up the scoring slack.
“His shooting looks like he is somebody who will be one of our leading scorers consistently,” Slepesky said.
The rest of the lineup is up in the air, but Slepesky has some prospects on the horizon, including sophomore guard Zion Antoine (5-10).
“Zion Antoine is a guy that we feel confident in our press and in our defense,” Slepesky said.
Senior Marley Sturdivant played as a freshman and sophomore. He returns after not playing as a junior.
“Marley has come back and generally looks to be much more aggressive than what he was. He looks much more comfortable around the rim,” Slepesky said. “Marley has got a good jump shot for a big guy. He can stroke it from 15 to 18 feet out and not have any trouble with that, so it gives him a little bit of versatility.”
Other Wolverines vying for minutes include junior forwards Patrick Manoto (6-0), Robert Johnson (6-3), Charles Greenwood (6-0) and Ife Kolade (6-0), senior guard Bryce Norman (5-11), and junior guards Will Fitch (5-9) and Walter Carr (6-0).