FORT WAYNE – Blackhawk Christian coach Jay Sefton didnt have to wait until the players showed up at the first team practice to figure out the makeup of his team.
Six seniors from last years bunch, including the leading scorer and leading rebounder, were gone. There were some upperclassmen, sure, but what he mostly saw was a passel of sophomores. And most of them were stretching to reach 6 foot.
But there was also Joey Morlan, who, at 6-4, quite literally stood out among the crowd.
Morlan, already, is a prospect to play guard in college. Hes a strong shooter who knocked down nearly 40 percent of his three-point attempts last season when he was a mere freshman.
IPFW has already made an offer.
But heres the situation the Braves face going into this season: Morlan is not only the best theyve got, hes also the biggest.
For us, hes got to be a jack of all trades, Sefton said. Defensive stopper; midrange; face up; a stretch four (position). Thats going to be how we utilize him in the offense.
Hell have to be, sometimes, back to the basket, as well. Were counting on him to do a lot.
Morlan, barely two years out of eighth grade, will have to be Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside when its impossible to be both at the same time – although hell give it a go.
I grew up playing post my whole life, and recently I started playing, like, the three guard, so Ive got (post) moves I know how to use, Morlan said. Im excited to be back and forth between the two positions this year. Im going to do whatever it takes to help us win, whether its diving on loose balls and doing all the dirty work or hitting the shot that I need. Im going to try to do whatever it takes.
By the time the Braves got to the tail end of their season last year, they had a better grasp on what it took. A 10-game losing streak contributed to a 4-14 record, but Blackhawk won half of its last eight games to finish the season 8-16 and give it a jump-start into the 2012-13 season.
I got a lot of experience last year, said Morlan, who averaged 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds. Im going to be prepared.
There was a lot of playing in the offseason, which is no longer an offseason for the serious player.
Morlans Spiece Indy Heat AAU team went to the nationals in Orlando, Fla. He lifted weights and bulked up.
With all that and the experience from last year, I know what to expect, and I know how to prepare, and I know whats going to happen, Morlan said.
Sefton knows what kind of player he has at his disposal. He knows Morlans collegiate future wont be on the right block, trying to shoot over a 6-11 center. But he sees the tallest kid on the team and sees the need inside.
The emphasis on Joeys part will be to become the well-rounded basketball player that he is capable of becoming. Theres a fine line. Theres a fine balance for a player and a fine balance for a coach. Its a diplomatic way of saying hell do a bit of everything for us, and needs to.
Whats good for the goose is good for the flock.