Chad Jones believes the adjustment period has ended.
Entering the second season in charge of his alma mater, the veteran coach takes Park Hill into a new conference with plenty of returning pieces from last year’s 13-13 season. The Trojans were 5-5 in the Suburban Conference Red Division but will have 12 league games this season after moving up to the Gold Division for the first time.
“I feel better about the program overall,” Jones said. “My second year in, the guys have a better understanding of what I want and what’s expected of them. Talent-wise we have a lot of pieces to work with this year so we’re pretty excited about the possibilities of this season.”
Park Hill ended up with the top seed in a competitive Class 5 District 16 field but ended up one and done in the postseason after a minor upset loss to Staley.
Tanner Zeil and Brandon Townsell — both All-Red Division picks — led the way as seniors, but the Trojans also lot key contributors Tanner Morrison, Payton LaFerla and Kentrez Bell. Zeil and Townsell were two of three players to average double figure scoring in Jones’ first year in charge.
However, senior Dru Smith returns with a year and a half of starting experience ready to lead from the point guard spot after averaging 12 points and six rebounds per game as an honorable mention All-Red Division pick.
In addition, junior Willy Majok (eight points, four assists per game) and senior Chester Graves (six points, five rebounds per game) give Jones a pair of versatile players on both ends of the floor.
“We’ve got to be able to guard people for four quarters, and I think we’ve got the personnel to be able to do that,” Jones said. “So we’re excited to be able to lock people up defensively, and I think we’ve got some guys that can really put the ball in the hole, too, so it should be good on both ends.”
With five key contributors gone, juniors Ronnie Bell and Cecil Lee will step into larger roles, but the up-and-coming part of the roster could be the sophomores. Jones mentioned Roman Wilson, Nick Zeil, Haden Wallace and Ryan Graves as possible contributors.
“We have four of the sophomores that’ll push for playing time, and we’ve got a nice group of juniors as well some of got on the varsity court last year,” Jones said.