In 2013-2014, John Davis III, Julio Stevens and Tre Sanders formed the foundation of Beachwood’s basketball team that finished 20-4 overall, 15-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference and finished No. 1 in the AP Division III state basketball poll.
|Ronald Jones is in his third year on the varsity squad|
That team also included five sophomores who saw significant playing time and as juniors are now ready for their chance to shine.
“We ended the season last year with John and Tre and Julio as our three seniors and then after that the next five were all sophomores,” said Beachwood head coach Matt Miller. “Those five sophomores coming back, they make up our starting five right now. That group has gotten a little bit bigger, a little stronger; they really worked in the off-season. That first five has looked really, really good in our scrimmages.”
Beachwood’s Fab Five junior class includes Dassan Rhodes, Jalen Davis, Tyrone Gibson, Ronald Jones and Maishe Dailey.
“Last year, Maishe, Jalen and Ronald all had games where they scored in the 20’s,” Miller said. “Those three are probably the biggest three we’re looking at as far as scoring for us. The other two, Tyrone Gibson, he spent some time in the starting lineup last year. He’s definitely someone capable of scoring 15-20 points. The biggest improvement was probably Dassan Rhodes. He started off in JV last year and by the end of the season he was full time varsity. He has probably made the biggest jump as far as the guys.”
At 6-foot-5, Dailey is the tallest of the Bison and he already has drawn interest from several Division I college programs. Jones, a 6-foot-4 forward, is in his third year on the varsity.
“Maishe has grown a little bit. He’s 6-5 now and our best shooter in the starting lineup,” Miller said. “Ronald has gotten stronger and more athletic; he and Maishe are both finishing above the rim consistently. That whole group has gotten more athletic and has more skill.”
Davis and Gibson both stand 6-foot-2 and Rhodes is 6-foot.
The key for the Bison is finding one or more of those players to fill the role vacated by Davis III, who now plays at Furman University.
“Obviously John pretty much led us in everything last year,” Miller said. “All these guys were able to take a backseat and take a supportive role for John. John knew when to take over and score and he knew what had to be done. None of these guys have had to do that yet. That’s definitely going to be a challenge. We have to find out where is the leadership going to come from and who is going to step up when we need a basket in crunch time and who is ultimately going to lead this team.”
Beachwood should get a boost from its bench this winter.
Junior guard Shawn May and sophomore guard David Somogyi have shown they have the ability to score from the perimeter, which will keep teams from crashing the paint.
“They might be two of the best shooters anywhere,” Miller said. “If they have space they’re knocking down shots. With the amount of attention that first give gets, when we bring those two off the bench they’re getting a lot of open looks on the outside because of the penetration from the other guys. We have much better shooting off the bench this year and we have a couple of other guards that played JV that are quick and tough.”
Junior Charles Colson and senior Wynn Hines should provide some valuable minutes for the Bison this season and Chris Bell, a junior guard, will provide some toughness in the lineup.
“Chris Bell played on the football team and he brings some physical play and good defense,” Miller said. “Charles Colson is another guard from the JV and (Wynn) Hines, they both played JV last year. We have a good, solid group the only problem is they’re all small. All of those guys are 6-foot or below coming off the bench. We definitely have zero size coming off the bench right now.”
Despite their shortcomings in the height department, the Bison have a very high ceiling. It won’t be easy to replace Davis but the Bison are more balanced and could be even more difficult to defend than in the past.
“This is going to sound really weird and kind of crazy because John is not here, but the starting five is better than last year’s starting five,” Miller said. “We’re bigger, we’re longer and we’re more skilled and more athletic. The problem is John knew when to get points and when to take over games. We don’t have anybody that I know right now that can take over a game like that. We lost that dominating player. Obviously, Maishe Dailey could be a dominant player and Ronald Jones could be a dominant player. They definitely had flashes of that in the preseason.”
Miller believes this team could make some noise in the post-season but he’s also got his eye on the future as he’ll return every starter and most of his bench in 2015-2016.
That’s why he beefed up the non-conference schedule.
“We’re looking at this as we really want to challenge them this year with the harder schedule,” he said. “We definitely want to win some of these games against some of these elite teams that we play. That’s going to probably be the biggest thing that we measure, how we play against those teams and do we find a way to win some of those games. Obviously, we’d like to win the league again. If the schedule gets us ready like I hope it does, I think we can go in (the district tournament) and compete with Warrensville and then with (Villa Angela-St. Joseph).”
Beachwood opens the season at Orange on Friday.
“We’re sick of playing against each other,” Miller said. “We want to get a real game going here.”