By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Youth will play an important role in the success of the Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School boys basketball team this season.
“We will be very young,” first-year Cavalier coach Chris Myers said before Sunday’s practice. “We return only two players (both senior starters) with varsity experience. Our success will be determined by the production we get from our freshman class. With all that, if our young players are able to grow and progress throughout the season, we believe we can make a run at a district title.”
The returning Thomas Jefferson starters are 6-foot-10 Justin Brown and 6-1 Tyler Thurman.
Brown averaged 12 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2 assists and 1.2 steals for a team that finished 18-8 overall and 7-5 in the Ozark 7 Conference. He received second all-league honors.
Thurman averaged 7.5 points and two assists for the Class 1 District 5 champions.
“I feel good about the leadership from our seniors Brown and Thurman,” Myers said. “Both players are battle-tested and Thurman will be our point guard.
“Brown is tougher mentally and he’s improved his outside game,” Myers said. “Thurman’s No. 1 quality is leadership. He’s a vocal leader, too.”
The Cavaliers, seeded fourth, open the season at 6 tonight against Sarcoxie in the Pierce City Tournament. No. 1 Diamond faces Exeter at 7:30.
Myers’ probable starters for the Cavaliers, in addition to Brown and Thurman, are 6-3 sophomore John Burnett, 6-1 freshman Edward Hershewe and 6-0 freshman Michael Joseph.
Juniors Sanjay Jenkins (6-3), Trevor Spriggs (6-1) and Grey Young (6-4) are expected off the bench, Myers said.
“I actually consider Briggs a starter,” Myers said, “He’s in the mix.”
Seth Triplett, a 6-0 sophomore, and 5-10 freshman Noah Wells round out the Cavaliers’ top 10.
Completing the varsity/junior varsity roster are five freshmen — Harry Carpenter, Mario Destephen, Alex Renfro, Joe Scott and Levi Vasquez.
Scott (coming off knee surgery) and Vasquez (strained ACL) currently are sidelined, Myers said.
Myers, who’s assisted by Zack Owens, replaced Cleo Elbert, who resigned varsity duties, but is working with the middle school boys.
Myers, a graduate of Monett High School (1997) and Missouri Southern State University, also serves Thomas Jefferson as athletics director, dean of boys and building and grounds coordinator.
Myers’ experience as a head coach in varsity basketball includes two years apiece as the McAuley Catholic boys coach and Thomas Jefferson girls coach.