COLLINSVILLE — Collinsville's offense went through the perimeter last season. This year, the Kahoks will look to the post.
The graduation of all-Southwestern Conference guard Falando Wilkinson has created a scoring void Collinsville hopes will be filled by slender 6-foot-8 junior Emondre Rickman.
"He's progressed. He's gotten better since last year, there's no question," fifth-year Collinsville coach Darin Lee said. "He's incredibly long. He has a lot of length around the basket and he's improved offensively quite a bit. There's no doubt he's a key component to our team."
Rickman got his first taste of the varsity level last season and, as expected, was inconsistent. He played in 27 games and averaged 2.3 points and four rebounds. But he had 51 blocked shots, an indication that he will be a defensive force.
Lee said Rickman needs to develop into the complete package this season if the Kahoks are to improve on last season, when they were 13-18 overall and 4-10 in the SWC.
"He's a factor defensively around the bucket," Lee said. "He's becoming a better rebounder. But to score in the post is something we need. He's gotten better with his confidence (on offense); there was a confidence factor last year."
In addition to Wilkinson, who averaged 17.3 points last season, Collinsville graduated its second- and third-leading scorers in Chris Mathes (8.1 points) and Briley Kellison (7.1 points).
Another experienced player, senior Tanner Houck, is not playing basketball so he can focus on baseball. Houck, a pitcher, has verbally committed to Missouri and could be drafted in June.
Lee is not yet certain who will join Rickman in the lineup. Candidates include 6-5 senior Matt Chambers, 6-7 junior Sean Davis, 6-1 senior Jacob Shaffer, 5-9 junior Jamal Wellmaker, 5-10 junior Anfirnee Wilkinson, 6-3 junior Harrison Wethers and 6-0 junior Nic Gonet.
Rounding out the roster are 5-11 junior Brett Langley, 6-3 junior Cole Buehne and 5-11 senior Jake Moore.
"We don't have that scorer like Falando last year," Lee said. "It's a very balanced attack. We'll see how the defense is playing us, where the shots come from. We don't have that one go-to scorer. It could be anybody."
Davis played in 30 games last season and averaged five points; Shaffer played in 26 games and averaged 1.6 points.
"Sean's a big body," Lee said. "He can post low in the block. That's probably what he does best."
Whether Rickman and Davis are in the lineup at the same time remains to be seen, but it presents an intriguing option for Lee. Neither, however, is considered a forward.
"We're always going to have one of the two in the game, obviously, in the five spot," Lee said. "(But) we haven't decided if we're going to put them out there at the same time. How much we play one or the other in the four spot --play them in combination --I think we'll use this first tournament to take a look."
Collinsville opens the season at 5:30 p.m. Monday against Salem in the Pyramid Plus Thanksgiving Tournament at Herrin High. The Kahoks also will face Soldan (St. Louis), Herrin, Mount Vernon and Marion in the tournament.
Shaffer and Wilkinson might have the inside track to start in the backcourt. Neither is a true point guard.
"Jacob's a hard worker and his set shot has developed some. He's gotten better," Lee said. "He and Anfirnee are going to have to get the ball in positions to get it to our big people and just get us in an offense."
As usual, Lee expects the SWC to be difficult.
"We're going to have our struggles," he said. "We have a little experience with our post players. But the rest of them really didn't see much action --the guards. We were pretty senior-oriented last year with our guards. We're definitely a junior-dominated team. We'll see how we come along."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.