The Grady boys basketball team opens its season against Meadow Creek High School at the annual John Morgan Thanksgiving Tournament Nov. 23-26. The team made it into the sweet 16 at the 4AAAA state tournament with a record of 19-10 last year.
Although they lost in the second round of state playoffs to Alexander High School 66-59, head coach Brian Weeden believes they can exceed their previous triumphs in the year to come.
“Although we lost a star player, Brandon Watkins, I do believe we can supersede what we did last year, and make it a special year,” Weeden said.
The team will have to replace the scoring, rebounding and leadership of Watkins, who will be playing college basketball on a full scholarship to West Virginia University this fall. As a senior last year, he was Grady’s all-region/all-state player of the year and a McDonald’s All-American nominee.
Although the team will be missing a key player like Watkins, the team will have to adapt to a new playing style utilizing the young players they do have.
“This year, we’ll play guard-oriented,” Weeden said. “Play faster. Fast break transition with easy lay-ups.”
This year’s team is young, with only two returning seniors as starters: combo guard Tyrius Walker and wing Darriun Shelton.
“I think we’re going to go farther than we did last year,” Walker said. “We got a lot of young guys and we are really used to the new coach and playing style.”
The season opener is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 23 at Pebblebrook High School.