After graduating seven seniors, Collinsville will need big things from junior Ronnie Midgett.
Midgett is one of three returning players the Kahoks will turn to after losing the bulk of their team, including Emondre Rickman, Anfirnee Wilkinson and Brett Langley.
“He could be (special),” Kahoks coach Darin Lee said of Midgett, a 5-foot-11 point guard who averaged 10.5 points and made 42 3-pointers last season. “There’s no doubt that he’s gifted offensively. He’s quick with the basketball and has a sneaky-quick shot. It’s not a true jump shot, but he can get it off quickly. With his quickness, he can create a little space.
“Like many kids, he could improve defensively. Defense isn’t as much fun, so therefore, it doesn’t come as quickly as most coaches would like.”
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Moving into more significant roles with Midgett will be 6-3 senior forward Zach Flora and 5-7 senior shooting guard Tommy Maden. Flora played in 27 games in a reserve capacity last season and averaged 2.3 points. Maden averaged 2.3 points in 10 games.
“They’re going to have to be key contributors if we’re going to have some success. Those three are the ones, really the only ones, with any varsity experience,” said Lee, whose team won a regional title last season and was 20-13 overall and 7-7 in the Southwestern Conference.
Flora will be counted on to ease the scoring load off Midgett’s shoulders.
“He’ll have to knock some shots down,” Lee said. “When he’s open, he has to get them in the basket. He’s our best defender and our best rebounder, too, so he’s a key guy for us.”
Lee said Flora doesn’t have to try to do too much.
“I generally feel if you run an efficient offense, you can get guys shots,” Lee said. “We have other guys that can knock some shots down, so it’s not like we need (Flora) to go out there and score a lot. If we execute, we can get shots and hopefully get some buckets.”
Maden is a spot-up shooter who could provide help from beyond the arc. Collinsville graduated its top 3-point shooters in Wilkinson (61) and Langley (60).
“Tommy’s always been a great shooter. I don’t think that’s a secret to anybody,” Lee said. “He’s not very big, but he’s a good shooter and has a quick release. He can stretch the defense and cause problems because he’s got some range on his shot.”
Filling in the blanks
There’s plenty of competition for the remaining two starting spots, Lee said. Battling for playing time are 6-3 junior Sam Webb, 6-1 junior Laron Johnson, 6-3 junior Chandler Buehne, 5-11 junior Jaaron Williams and 5-11 senior Amron Cooper-Hodges.
“Laron Johnson plays a little bigger than he is,” Lee said. “He was a linebacker in football and has a lot of strength. He’s going to play. He can do something rebounding-wise. Sam Webb is in that mix, too. Jake Hall has a little size. Our lineup will be fluid as the year moves along. I don’t think you’ll see the same starting lineup as the season goes along.
“We’re going to take a look at everybody and see what they can get done. I came out of the summer without a clear (idea) about who would get the bulk of the playing time and we’ve gone through two weeks of practice and I’m still not sure.”
Lee’s main concerns are defending and rebounding.
“We’ve got a few guys who can make some shots, but you’re not going to compete very well if you can’t guard and you can’t rebound,” he said. “Those are going to be key, but I think they’re key things for any coach. We’ve got to do those things to compete.”
Finding a leader
With only three seniors, the Kahoks will need a galvanizing force on the court, and Lee believes Flora and Maden can fill that void.
“Zach and Tommy are seniors,” Lee said. “Seniors are important to any team.”
Cooper-Hodges, the other senior, was not on the team last year.
Collinsville will open the season in the Herrin Tournament against the host Tigers at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Kahoks will play Marion at 8 p.m. Friday and Mount Vernon at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.