After riding a veteran-laden team to the top of the Panhandle Conference standings and eventually the national tournament last season, the Chipola Indians will start the new year Friday with a virtually brand-new team.
The Ind ia ns – who went 26-6 overall and 8-4 in the Panhandle Conference last year and shared the league title with Pensacola St ate – return just one player from that group in 6-foot-6 sophomore Ty Baker, saying goodbye to a star-studded group that led by All-American guard and Connecticut-signee Sam Cassell, Jr.
Division-I signees Carlos Morris ( Minn esota ), Cinmeon Bowers ( Auburn ), and Demetrious Floyd (Stephen F. Austin) also depart after combining with Cassell, Jr. to account for 56.9 points and 20 rebounds per game.
Chipola lost 96 percent of its scoring overall, with Baker returning after averaging 3.3 points and 2.2 rebounds.
Despite the massive roster turnover, third-year coach Patrick Blake said Monday he’s ‘excited’ about his new batch of Indians led by 7-foot redshirt center and Clemson commit Legend Robertin, as well as a talented trio of transfers in guards Tra-Deon Hollins, KJ Scott, and forward Dejuan Marrero.
“I really like this group we have. It’s a fun group to coach. It just that, unfortunately, there’s a lot to be learned,” the coach said. “We’ve got to get a lot better in a hurry. Right now, we’re doing everything we can to get these 10 new guys on the same page to be able to compete in the state. But I like our size, length, and athleticism.”
The Indians will also lean on a pair of talented freshman forwards in super-athletic 6-foot-7 Junior Saintel and physical 6-foot-7 power forward Greg King, who will try to fill some of the void on the interior left by Bowers.