Boys basketball: Black Eagles have plenty of depth
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - This year, the key word for the South Charleston boys basketball team is deep, as in the bench and hopefully a postseason run.
Coach Vic Herbert and the Black Eagles return a slew of seniors and other underclassmen, including a talented freshman group, which is poised to not just return to the State Tournament, but advance.
"Last year, we felt like we were a little short," Herbert said referencing SC's 62-48 state quarterfinals loss to Parkersburg. "We felt like we should have made it at least to the semifinals. I think our guys are hungry and would like a chance to get back to the state tournament and show what we can do."
SC returns many of its top contributors from last season's team that finished 21-6 and undefeated in Mountain State Athletic Conference regular-season play. Point guard Ra'Shaud Kincaid leads a talented senior class that includes Trevond Reese, Hunter Moles, Neal Brown and Devon Harris. Junior Kevin Williams and sophomore A.D. Cunningham also return.
"We're going to have some decisions to make," Herbert said of his starting five. "I feel like with the kids we have on this team, we have seven guys you could consider starters, maybe eight. You're not going to lose much when you bring someone off the bench and actually gain in some areas to replace a guy that's in a game."
Herbert said the team could go as deep as nine or 10 players depending on the situation.
This year's freshman class featuring Kentre Grier and Brandon Knappert may also have the chance to contribute at the varsity level, Herbert said.
"Those kids are both really good players," Herbert said. "Athletically, they can compete with anybody we have on that level. They're both the future of our program."
SC will look to find new ways for offensive production after losing its top two scorers in graduated Ot Elmore and younger brother Jon Elmore, who transferred to Christ School (N.C.) where he could play point guard. Last year, the Elmores averaged a combined 30 points per game.
Herbert said he thinks the offense will resemble a balanced approach this season with the potential for as many as four players averaging double figures.
"I think it's going to be a share-the-wealth type of situation," he said, "and whoever happens to have it going that night will put the numbers up, and I think that'll change night to night."
This season, as last season, Kincaid will be the facilitator and director of the offense.
"He's a catalyst as far as handling the ball," Herbert said of Kincaid.
Herbert said he moved Kincaid to point guard two seasons ago to allow former Black Eagle standout Pierria Henry more opportunities to score.
"Ever since then, he's just been unreal," Herbert said. "He's a great defender. You won't find a better defender. He does a super job. He understands the game."
Herbert said Kincaid's greatest skill lies within assist-to-turnover ratio. Last year, Kincaid averaged just one turnover, while contributing 7.5 assists per game.
"That's huge to have a point guard that takes care of the ball like that, especially at our pace, our frantic pace," Herbert said. "He's got to make quick decisions on the dime. He's got to decide what to do very quickly, because we do try to get the ball up and down the floor."
While SC boasts one of the state's top guards, the team lacks a true post, though several forwards will be used in the interior.
"We can run just about anybody in the post," Herbert said. "We run what's called an open-post offense. We just call it open, and you really don't have any post players in there. There's a lot of cuts and screens like that, and we do have an offense where we do throw it inside quite a bit.
"What we do in our program is look for mismatches and we put the two guys or one guy inside, depending on what we're running, that we feel like we have the best match up to score in there."
Herbert said among those who will share the inside roles include, Williams, Reese, Moles, Brown and Cunningham.
With a heap of senior leadership that spills into a loaded bench, SC's ready for yet another run at the state tournament, and title.
"The teams I've been around that are loaded with seniors seem to do a little bit better in crunch time just because there's so many older kids on the team," Herbert said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see that work out this year."