Jacksonville Daily Progress
Optimism abounds in regard to the Jacksonville Indians' 2012-13 basketball season due to the fact that the team returns more experience and greater depth than it has in probably a decade.
The Tribe finished 25-9, 12-2 in district, a year ago and as good as last year was for the Indians, this season has the potential to be even better.
“We have nine lettermen returning, four of them are starters who have been playing varsity basketball since they were sophomores,” Jacksonville head coach Brent Kelley said. “Now they are entering their senior season and they have played on a regional tournament team (2010-11 season).
“You just don't find that level of experience coming back every year. It's something I've never experienced.”
Those returnees include, Dadrian Franklin (6'3”, Sr.) who averaged 12 points and six rebounds a game last year and Londedric Taylor (6'0”, Sr.) who put in seven points a night a year ago.
“D.D. (Franklin) and Taylor have started the last 70 varsity games for us, so they have experienced a lot,” Kelley said.
Other key cogs that are coming back are Kedarrius Buckingham (6'4”, Sr.), seven points and eight rebounds, a game a year ago, and Raybon Riden (seven points a night).
“Sometimes teams will return a lot of kids, but they will be the wrong kids,” Kelley explained. “These are the right kids, kids that know how to win.”
The Tribe will also have the services of senior Ladarrius Session, who missed most of last year due to academic reasons.
And if that were not enough, there is even more talent simmering among the ranks of the reserves.
“We have four more kids that have varsity experience in the rotation which will make us 12-14 deep,” Kelley said. “We've always been a team that went seven or eight deep. Hopefully that will be an advantage for us.”
Jacksonville is not the only member of District 16-4A that will roll out a slew of familiar faces this winter.
John Tyler (24-8, 12-2) will have eight lettermen back including district MVP Tyus Bowser, while down the road at Whitehouse the Wildcats (20-11, 8-6) will return district Offensive MVP Patrick Mahomes, along with several others.
“Along with us, John Tyler and Whitehouse are definitely the teams to beat, at least on paper” Kelley said. “Lindale, Corsicana and Nacogdoches are the wild cards.
“Lindale is moving up from (Class) 3A, we don't know a whole lot about Corsicana and Nacogdoches has a brand new coach.”
Two years ago the Indians made it all the way to the regional tournament in Garland and while not saying it directly, Kelley hinted at the fact that a return to regionals may in fact be one of this year's squads' goals.
“We talk about it (regional tournament) from time to time, but we don't harp on it,” Kelley said. “We have four kids on this team that played on the regional tournament team, so the memory is still fresh.
“We didn't make it to regionals last year and although we won 25 games, in some ways we felt like that we had had a disappointing year. It's like I've told the kids, getting to regionals is special and it doesn't happen every year. If we could get back there this year it would be a great accomplishment”
There is another thing that is special about this year's Tribe team as well.
“This group of seniors were in my sixth-grade P.E. class seven years ago and they are the first class that I have been able to see all the way through as a head coach,” Kelley pridefully stated. “So, they are a special bunch.”
Should the Indians be able to garner 27 wins in 2012-13 a milestone would be accomplished for both Kelley, as well as the group of seniors.
Kelley needs 27 wins to reach the 100-career win plateau as a head coach and a 27-win year would give the senior Tribesmen 100 wins for their high school career.
“It's more important for the kids,” Kelley said. “Our seniors won 24 games as freshmen, so if we can win 27 games this year, they will have won 100 games during their time at Jacksonville.”
NOTE: The Tribe opened the regular season last Friday by defeating Longview by 19 points...Jacksonville returns to action at 6 p.m. Saturday by taking on Brownsboro (varsity only) at UT-Tyler's Herrington-Patriot Center...The Indians' first home game comes Tuesday when Lufkin comes to town...The freshmen will get things started at 5 p.m., followed by the junior varsity and the varsity around 7:30 p.m...Davin Nelson is back and will serve as head junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach...Kevin “K.J.” Johnson will mentor the Tribe freshmen.