December – 5, South; 9, East; 12, at West; 13, Kapaun; 19, at Carroll.
January – 6, at Heights; 8, 9 or 10, vs. TBA at Koch Arena; 13, Northwest; 17, North; 20, at South (G); 22-24 at Highland Park tournament (B); 27, at South (B); 29-31 at McPherson tournament (G).
February – 3, at East; 6, West; 10, at Kapaun; 13, Carroll; 17, at North; 20, Heights; 24, at Northwest.
Coach: Melvin Herring, third season, 26-18
Last season: 17-6
Jerrick Harding, 6-0, jr., G
Regan Oyugi, 6-4, sr., F
Milan Brown, 6-1, jr., G
Stefan Barber, 6-6, sr., F/C
D’Andre Franklin, 5-10, jr., G
Herring doesn’t want to try and undersell what Harding can do on the court. He wants to embrace it.
“His nickname is Neo, like from ‘The Matrix,’ ” Herring said, referring to the 1999 sci-fi blockbuster. “Like the Chosen One. This kid just has the gift. He’s the complete package.”
Herring also went on to compare Harding to City League great Ricky Ross – “people think I’m lying, but if (Harding) were six inches taller…” – and that’s with the 6-foot junior guard staring down two more seasons to show what he can do after leading the league at 18 points last season.
The biggest hurdle for Harding and Herring has been figuring out how to make the star guard understand when he needs to take over games. Sometimes, in this case, the extra pass actually might not help.
“My biggest battle with him is getting him to be a little more selfish,” Herring said. “He cares about his teammates, he cares about getting the team involved. I think he understands this is a big year for him. I’ve told him he has to go out there and drop the bomb this season. He had a huge summer and he’s just that much more mature.”
Harding won’t have to go it alone – Oyugui is another returning starter and Franklin is also back after breaking into the rotation as a sophomore.
“Regan is caught between playing the three and the four, and we want to get him some more opportunities to show what he can do facing the basket this season,” Herring said. “He’s another one who understands the team concept, another one who can play a complete game.”
Herring, in his third season, has also started to learn what works best for him. And that’s sticking to his guns.
“I keep it simple, I stay true to what we do as a program,” Herring said. “Of course we make tweaks and our game style changes a little bit, but we keep it simple. We like to put on a show for the fans. We want people to say ‘I’m going to go see Southeast play’ because the (City League) is turning back to a league where there aren’t stars like Conner (Frankamp) or Perry (Ellis) anymore, so it’s becoming more about the team matchups.”
Coach: Latoya Randle, first season
Last season: 2-18
Alex Arline, 5-8, sr., G
Rachel Jenkins, 5-11, jr., F
Patricia Joseph, 5-10, jr., F
Randle is back for her second stint at Southeast after coaching the Buffaloes from 2007 to 2011.
In her three years away, her life has changed drastically. Enough that she says it’s altered her perspective on coaching basketball and her approach.
“You deal with life-and-death stuff, it gives you a new perspective,” Randle said. “Going through what I have, what my family has, it changes you.”
Randle left Southeast to become a graduate assistant at Butler Community College, but basketball quickly got put on the back burner when her son, Julian, was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that, at one point, took away his ability to walk. Julian, now 8, is doing better, although he still needs frequent hospital visits.
“It just changes where I prepare,” Randle said. “I’m not in a classroom getting ready for tryouts, I’m in a hospital.”
Wins are important, Randle admits, but won’t be as important as shaping the program and individuals as a whole.
“The group I have is very coachable, and I’m just happy to have that opportunity to be around the kids again, to work with them,” Randle said. “We’ll start with fundamentals, and once handling and shooting the basketball comes without thinking, then you can focus on what you need to do offensively and defensively to win games.”
Arline started last year and was an honorable mention All-City pick. Jenkins and Joseph should provide much-needed help in the post.
“They’re all workaholics,” Randle said. “I know Rachel and Patricia came on strong at the end of last year, so hopefully that continues into this season.”
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PREVIEWS ON VARSITYKANSAS.COM
Nov. 17: Derby, Southeast
Nov. 18: Heights, Trinity Academy
Nov. 19: Andale, East
Nov. 20: Andover Central, North
Nov. 21: Carroll, Maize
Nov. 22: Andover, West
Nov. 23: Collegiate, Northwest
Nov. 24: Circle, Kapaun
Nov. 25: Independent, Wichita South
Nov. 26: Goddard, Maize South
Nov. 27: Clearwater, Garden Plain
Nov. 28: El Dorado, Mulvane
Nov. 29: Newton, Valley Center, other teams in the AV-CTL, CPL, CKL and area smaller schools
Nov. 30: Eisenhower, Rose Hill
Dec. 1: Augusta, Campus
Dec. 2: Cheney, Conway Springs