One of the first things Chris Sullens wanted to establish when he was hired as the new boys basketball coach at Warren County High School is that every basketball player in his program is a Pioneer, no matter their allegiances during middle school. Tuesday night, he and his coaching staff started the process of blending in county school players with WCMS products when the 17-player freshman roster was announced.
Warren County Middle School has the most representatives on the squad with six, while Eastside, Irving College and Morrison Elementary Schools were represented by three players apiece. Two players will come from Dibrell Elementary School.
The well-balanced roster is one Sullens believes can become a long-term building block for his Pioneer program.
“Our coaching staff evaluated this group looking at not only this year, but what we think some of these young men can be developed into in coming years,” said Sullens. “We will continue to watch and monitor them through the summer. Stephen Glenn will be in charge of the group and he will echo what the rest of our staff wants out of our basketball team.
“We are excited about the possibilities with this group. We told them from the first day we are all Pioneers now so it’s their job to buy into the family atmosphere we’re selling.”
Isaiah Grayson, Wesley Jennings, Cole Estes, Tyree Ladet and Bunker Brock each played extensively for WCMS a season ago when the Pioneers claimed another top-three finish in the Central Tennessee Conference. It will be a reunion of sorts for the former WCMS Pioneers and their coach Adam Wood, who is now a member of the WCHS staff under Sullens. Trevor Collins was the sixth WCMS student who made the freshman team.
Last year’s county championship Eastside Bulldog team saw starters Lucas Patrick, Jesse Jones and Noah Bost make the cut. Patrick was the county league’s leading scorer last year while Jones and Bost each made the all-tournament team.
Morrison and Irving College, which tied for the regular-season championship in the county league, also added three players to the freshman team. Caleb Newby, Layne Murphy and Brayton Kelsey are former all-county Eagles. Chance Hobbs, Douglas Nelson and Freddie Trevino suited up at Irving College last year and played big roles in a successful season for the Tigers.
Noah Campbell and Thomas Judkins come from a long lineage of championship teams at Dibrell and will provide help at the guard positions for the freshman team.
Glenn, who comes over after coaching the Boyd High School girls team a year ago, believes the roster is versatile and flexible at all positions.
“This team has a lot of size, which you can’t teach. The guards have the ability to provide scoring and ball handling,” said Glenn. “We have a lot of teaching to do with fundamentals, starting on the defensive side. If you’re going to play high school basketball, you have to play good defense and work hard.
“We wanted to give these kids a chance and opportunity. We’re going to bring them up to speed and get them on the same page. We’re all one now.”