Grand Valley begins its return to the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division with four returning starters and two dynamic players who should keep the Mustangs in contention for the league title.
Head coach Justin Turk is cautiously optimistic about the Mustangs’ chances as there remain many question marks heading into the winter season.
“We have some experience coming back, but we are still a young team learning how to compete and win at the varsity level,” said Turk, who is in his fifth season at the school. “Having said that, we expect to compete in our division with two 16-plus points per game scorers and four starters returning.”
While the Mustangs are focusing on stepping up on the defensive end of the court, they will be dangerous on the offensive side as they can score from the outside but also have the ability to drive to the hoop.
Opposing teams will have their hands full with returning starters Malik Mitchell and Ashton Zupancic.
Mitchell, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, averaged 18 points per game last year and shot 86-percent from the free throw line in being named first-team all-county and first-team all-conference. Zupancic, a 6-foot junior guard, averaged 15 points per game last season. He was named first-team all-conference and honorable mention all-county.
“Malik is an ultra-talented player with the ability to shoot anywhere on the floor,” Turk said. “Ashton is an extreme competitor with the ability to attack the rim.”
Josh Huffman, Derek Jackson and Ethan Spencer round out the projected starting lineup.
Huffman, a 6-foot senior guard/forward will be a first-year starter while Jackson, a 6-foot-2 junior forward/center, and Spencer, a 5-foot-7 sophomore point guard, are returning starters.
“Josh has the ability to be a solid two-way player and on most nights will look to guard the other team’s best player,” Turk said. “Derek’s commitment to the weight room in the offseason has him poised to be a physical presence for us this year. Ethan will continue his upward trend as the game should slow down for him some this year as he continues to run the offense.”
Turk is also counting on 6-foot sophomore guard Hagan Hedjuk to contribute.
“Hagan does all the little things asked of him and has the ability to knock down open looks,” Turk said.