The Delaware Hayes boys basketball team is a pretty close-knit group.
If the Pacers are going to get where they want to go this season, though, head coach Jordan Blackburn said they need to be even closer.
“If we are going to accomplish some of the goals these boys have, we need to be the most together and cohesive team around,” he said. “We need to work on getting closer … getting tougher every day.”
Shouldn’t be much of a problem considering Hayes returns seven key pieces from last year’s squad.
Projected starters include junior guards Nate Griggs and Addison Harvey, senior forwards Terin Kinsway and Jwan Lyles and junior wing Paul Burris. Griggs, who will be running the show at point guard for the third straight season, was an All-OCC and All-District honoree a season ago. Kinsway, a four-year starter, was an All-Ohio performer.
“Nate is one of the best shooters I’ve coached … and he’s as tough and consistent as any guard we’ve had,” Blackburn said of Griggs, who led Central Ohio in three-point shooting percentage last winter.
“Addison’s competitiveness is contagious and he’s much more skilled offensively (than last year),” he added. “He sees the floor as well as anyone and is an excellent defender.
“Terin has an excellent inside-outside game, and is in wonderful shape. His strength is a game-changer, and he almost always jump-stops so he rarely charges; Jwan has improved quite a bit on finishing in traffic and has added a ton of strength; and Paul has gotten a lot quicker, which has added a driving dimension to his game and made him a better on-ball defender.”
Other returns included sophomore guard Ryan Smudz, who started eight games as a freshman; and senior forward Jack Weller, a four-year letterwinner.
“Smudz is extremely bright, sees the floor very well and is very skilled on the offensive end,” Blackburn said. “He’s also always in position on defense and is a great communicator … and Jack is a terrific defender and competes on a daily basis.”
Needless to say, depth is a strength.
“We have seven returning lettermen and two others who will contribute who have played as tough a scrimmage schedule as anyone in Central Ohio (Upper Arlington, Pickerington Central, Westerville North and Olentangy Liberty) and had some success,” he said. “We are excited for the year.”
The Pacers open the season Friday against host Buckeye Valley. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. Tickets are pre-sale only and those remaining will be available for purchase in the Hayes and Buckeye Valley athletic offices from 7:45 a.m. until 3 p.m. the rest of the week.