Open Gym: Sanford School (Delaware Independent Conference) –

Two things about Sanford School basketball are constant # 1 is they will be in the chase for the Delaware state championship and # 2 is that HC Stan Waterman will be on the sideline now entering his 27th season at the helm of one of the states true basketball powers. As with the state of Kentucky the state of Delaware crown a single champion and Sanford has won 6 under Waterman's tutelage and with a deep team with almost everyone returning from last year's semifinalists I had to wonder if this may be his next title winning team.

The Backcourt:

With only one starter lost to graduation the Warriors will have two starters returning in the backcourt as 5'10' '20 Corey Perkins and his cousin 5'10' '20 Hassan Perkins will man the guard line. Corey had a real good summer and is primed to lead the attack with his tight handle and quick driving game to the basket while also being able to dish the rock to open teammates. Hassan possesses similar skills with the ability to hit cutting teammates or knock down perimeter jump shots. Both these guys will get after you on the defensive end as well harassing opposing ball handlers into bad decisions or setting them up to strip them off double teams. If they have a fault it's that they dribble without purpose but with another year under their belts I expect to see less of that this coming year. 6'1' '21 Brandon Dwyer will help as a shooter off the bench as I was impressed with his marksmanship at the Future All American Camp where he was one of the best shooters there. He is athletic and not one dimensional as he can put the ball on the floor and pick his spots to drive it strong to the hole. He'll need to work on defending the ball but the talent is there for sure. Two other Sophs will help out also in 6'2' '21 Carter Ruby who has a lanky frame but a nice stroke and timely moves to get to the basket and 5'9' '21 Nasir Cowan who held his own during the scrimmages here at the open gym and showed some nice instincts with the ball and defending.

The Frontcourt:

Where to start because this is truly a team strength and what better place to open up then with 6'6' '20 J'yare Davis. While he was a limited participant at this workout due to a tender knee I can see why he wouldn't risk an injury since it's only September. Davis has been a mainstay on this team since he was an 8th grader and has garnered plenty of D-1 interest with his expanding array of offensive talents and strong frame that allows him to penetrate down low for tough inside finishes thru contact but is also lithe enough for him to step out and drop smooth jumpers with range to the arc. He is a good rebounder as well and plays solid defense on top of that. 6'7' '20 Devin Harris is a bouncy forward whose game is starting to take shape and he should see immediate dividends in the way of college recruitment as he shows off his repertoire of body control moves to the cup and an improving jump shot in the wing areas. He is an active defender who can rebound well and block shots despite his thin frame and I shudder to think what he could do with 10-20 pounds of added muscle. Then you have 6'8' '21 Nnanna Njoku who is a monster inside and getting better. He has obviously hit the gym and gotten his body in tremendous shape and with that I have noticed an increase in his dexterity and footwork. On one play in a full court scrimmage he caught the ball and with a defender in front jab stepped toward the lane then did a spin move to the basket for two which he never could have pulled off a year ago. His shooting has improved and he can now face up and make plays shedding his back to the basket label. He can rebound and defend at a high level and he may have more upside than anybody on this Warrior squad when all is said and done. Rounding out the frontcourt will be Senior leader 6'6' '19 Ryan McKean the do everything type who is rapidly improving his overall game to the point where some D-III schools may be worried that some D-II will swoop in and steal him away. A high academic young man who is more athletic than he's given credit for and will do what it takes to win games is a scrappy interior player with nice touch inside who is not afraid to mix it up in the paint and he has a smooth jump shot that can't be overlooked. Every good team has this type of player and McKean fits that bill to a tee as he will defend and give his body up diving for a loose ball which is infectious for his teammates as well.

Outlook:

In a nutshell I would not be surprised if this team wins a state title this season despite only having one Senior that looks to be a major contributor as the talent level for this team is incredibly high. Of course as we all know crazy things can happen during the course of a season but if all goes according to plan this team should make it to 'The Bob' for the quarterfinals and once there why not make it back to the semi's and well why not come back on March 9th 2019 before a packed house and win the whole thing. Sounds great and que the sappy music as the lights fade and this Hollywood ending comes to a close but in reality this would not be an upset and if I had to make a pick here in September I would say Sanford may be the best in state but hey they have a challenging schedule which right now starts with Pennsylvania power Imhotep Charter in the Diane Mosco Memorial tourney and will feature a couple games at Delaware's premier event Slam Dunk to the Beach during Christmas break. All of this will certainly toughen up Coach Waterman's group and while I'm sure the rest of the state will not back down from the challenge that Sanford imposes my early pick is the Warriors at least make the state final on the second Saturday in March and it will be up to them to bring the trophy home.