By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Sullens sets Pioneer roster for 2021-22
WCHS - Kaden Rutledge 1-15-21.jpg
The lone returning starter for Pioneer basketball is rising junior Kaden Rutledge who will have an expanded role on the team in the 2021-22 season. - photo by Brad Durham

Graduation week signals the end of a school year and the beginning of a new athletic year for many high school sports. WCHS head boys basketball coach Chris Sullens selected his new roster for 2021-22 with his staff this past week. 

Sullens is adamant that next season will not be a rebuilding year for Pioneer basketball, yet he acknowledges he has lost some very good players.

Sullens said, “If C.J. Taylor was several inches taller, he would have received as many college offers in basketball as he did in football. And if Dee Spates was taller, he would have received college offers. Dee is walking on at Roane State which will be a good fit for him.”

There are a few veterans returning to the Pioneer basketball team who everyone can expect to be important players on next year's team. Sullens expects a few players to have major roles next season, and he explained some insights about them. 

Sullens said, “Kaden Rutledge’s role is going to change. Aaron Ashburn was a role player for us last year who is going to have to do more this year. Eli Kuykendall is another young man we will be counting on next season.”

Sullens continued, “We are not going to be talking about anyone taking someone’s spot on the team. It will be about guys coming in and doing the job we ask them to do. Treyton Terry is a sophomore that we are excited about. He played a lot of freshman ball, and I have heard a lot about him. He has done some things this spring on his AAU team. Keldrick Cox is going to have an opportunity to handle the basketball for us.”

Players are not penciled into the starting lineup yet because coach Sullens wants to see them working together as a team first. Practice will start Tuesday, June 1 at 6 p.m., which will be after football practice. 

There will be five-to-six days of scrimmaging other teams later in June. The team will be playing against Van Buren County, DeKalb County, White County and some Murfreesboro teams. 

Those day camps will begin June 15. A relatively young and inexperienced Pioneer basketball team will need a lot of practice between now and next March when district tournament time rolls around.

The only player who can expect to start or play a lot for the Pioneers next year is Kaden Rutledge. Coach Sullens said Rutledge knows that his role is going to be expanded to include leadership responsibilities. 

Rutledge is in the mix for bringing the ball down the court. Sullens is looking for players who can make good, quality decisions on the floor. Rutledge has been on the floor during district championship and region games and that gives him valuable experience. 

Followers of Pioneer basketball can expect a traditional Sullens-coached team that plays intense defense and an offense that wants to shoot 3-point shots. One specific thing near the top of Sullens’ list this summer will be observing and looking for consistent, reliable shooters. If quality shooters do not emerge, Sullens will probably move the Pioneers into more of an inside, physical offensive team.

Four senior starters from last year’s team have graduated. The Pioneers were district champions this past season, and not only will there be new players in the Pioneer starting lineup, the high school basketball team will be competing in a new district. 

Therefore, Pioneer fans can expect a lot of changes next season with one major constant in the mix, the head coach. Chris Sullens will be guiding the Pioneers into a new season with the same goals as last season -- winning the district and going to the region tournament.