Stepping into new roles
A large departed senior class for Jenks boys basketball will see a need for players to step into new, important roles.
The Trojans face an unusual predicament this season in that it offloaded a large number of last season’s team in graduation, yet there will be another big senior class this season. Players who had to share the load or had no playing time will be asked to step up this season.
The 2019-20 Jenks team features seven seniors, three juniors and four sophomores for an eclectic mix of experience and fresh talent. For a player like Ike Houston, taking on a bigger role will come seamlessly.
“He does a lot of facilitating out there on the floor for our guys, kind of an extension of our staff,” coach Clay Martin said. “We need him to be a little more aggressive scoring the basketball this year. He was a really good facilitator last year with Blake (Seacat) but he’s got to shoulder some of that scoring this year.”
Anfernee Nelson will enter this season a two-year starter for the Trojans. He should slide in well next to Houston offensively given their time spent on the court.
“He’s a 6-feet-4 kid on the wing that is really athletic, really tough and strong around the basket,” Martin said. “Usually draws the opponent’s best scorer. There’s no greater teacher than experience and both of those guys have two years.”
For some, this season will be the chance to prove they belong. Chase Martin manned the bench last season as the Trojan’s sixth man during his freshman campaign. This year the 6-feet-5 sophomore will have the opportunity to up his scoring from eight points per game a year ago.
“He’s a kid that’s going to have the chance to play, and play a lot,” Clay Martin said. “And he’s got to score the ball this year.”
As with Houston, Nelson and Martin, Jenks has the height advantage from the top down of the roster. Of the 13 players, nine have registered heights of 6-feet-2 or above, Noah Borchers tops the list at 6-feet-7.
As with every team in Trojan basketball past, rebounding will be a staple in the team’s identity. Over the preseason Jenks proved they’ll have no problem filling up the stat sheet.
“I love that we’re rebounding really hard right now,” Martin said. “We’ve been a very good rebounding program for 15 years and I think that’s got to stick with us because that can help you.”
Once a Jenks player pulls down a missed shot, it’s off to the races. The Trojans have no problem scoring in transition. It’s when the game slows down that they see a difference.
“We’ve got to be able to score a little bit better when it’s a five-on-five game,” Martin said. “In transition, those baskets come easy. But we’ve got to be able to score a little better when it’s a five-on-five, fourth quarter with three minutes to go, can we get the shot we want? I think that’s an area we’ve committed to try to improve them.”
With this team’s mentality, creating offense shouldn’t be hard.
Over the course of the preseason the Trojans have excelled in sharing the ball, maybe excelling too much.
“I love how unselfish they are, sometimes to a fault,” Martin said. “Sometimes we turn down some good shots because we’re being too unselfish, but I love that they’re looking for each other, I love that they’re willing to make the extra pass.”
Jenks has the right mix of youth and experience, length and IQ, rebounding and scoring. Putting it all together will be their first, and biggest, test.
“We’re anxious to see those kids,” Martin said. “It’s their moment now. What’re they going to do with it?”