Montevallo basketball preview 2017-18

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

The ending of the 2016-17 basketball season still resonates at the front of Montevallo head coach Greg Dickinson’s mind after a 103-56 loss in the Elite 8 to the eventual 3A State Champion Midfield Patriots.

Dickinson was forced to sit on the bench that entire game due to a technical foul during warmups by a player touching the rim, causing him to sit and watch instead of being able to coach as his team’s season came to an end.

Now, he’s excited to get back to it in 2017 and he’ll be thrown into a tough coaching job having to replace not just three seniors, but his three best players from last year’s team.

Te Smith and Tavarus Hall were both second team All-County guys last year and really dominated for the Bulldogs on offense. Smith 20.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 blocks per game; while Hall averaged 15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and four assists per game.

“Both of those guys are hard to replace,” Dickinson said. “Their IQ of the game was second to none. Te’ was just such a scorer and could do so much on the offensive side of the ball and was always around the rim grabbing rebounds.”

Dickinson also spoke highly of another senior on last year’s team in TreShawn Brown. Brown was a member of the All-County third team and averaged nine points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.

Not only do the Bulldogs lose those three seniors, but with Ahmad Edwards now at Thompson, Daqwan Bryant breaking his leg early in the first game of the football season and Jay Sullens breaking his leg two weeks ago, Dickinson has been put in a tough spot to find guys to play.

All three of those guys would have been key starters and Bryant was going to be “the guy” this year according to Dickinson. Bryant should be back sometime late in January, but Sullens, who was the starting quarterback on the football team before breaking his leg, will have a longer timetable to return since his injury was more recently.

While Dickinson has had to shuffle some things around, he feels good about what he’s got and it starts with point guard Jamarcus Green.

“He’s a short, small kind of guy, but can score at will,” Dickinson said. “He’s going to be our guy this year and the big offensive threat.”

The Bulldogs will also rely heavily on Jay Sullens’ younger brother Jabrian Sullens, who as just a sophomore, stands at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. Dickinson said with his size, he is a guy who will play in the post a lot and be a big rebounder for the team.

Senior Joseph Cardoze will be looked at as a veteran guy with his experience on the team. Cardoza is a guy who is super athletic according to his coach and will play a big time role in contributing for the team.

As will junior Omar Morton, who has the chance to take advantage of all the injuries by proving himself in the starting lineup.

TaVarius Holman, who played a lot last year, Jordan Johnson and Davion Gilbert will all battle for the fifth and final starting spot on the team. Each of those guys is very athletic and fast. Whoever doesn’t start out of those three will be key contributors off the bench.

Jamarus Carter, Calera transfer J.J. Evans, Adam Jones and Demetrius Smith will all add extra depth off the bench as young guys.

“It’s going to be a young year for us, but we have a lot of young guys who are going to do some big things for us, especially off the bench,” Dickinson said.

While the Bulldogs lose a lot and are really hurting from injury right now, Dickinson was able to coach a team last year that had lost eight seniors and led them to the Elite 8, so I wouldn’t put it past him to duplicate that level of success.

“We had a good summer,” Dickinson said. “I still think we are going to be okay even with the injuries, but it’s going to be tough. It’s going to take a lot of coaching on this one, but by the end of the year, we have a chance to be very good.”

Montevallo still has a while before it will open the 2017-18 season Nov. 18-21 at the Mortimer Jordan Thanksgiving tournament.