The Eaglecrest Raptors, one of the elite Class 5A programs for the past several years, capped off an impressive 2014-15 season with a runner-up finish in the stacked Centennial League, a 21-6 record, and a Final 4 appearance.
They did graduate all-around stud Blend Avdili, floor general Elijah Ross, and explosive guard Peter Anderson, three weapons and three leaders not easily replaced.
And yet, Coach John Olander has a cornerstone piece for the future as 2017 guard Colbey Ross, the team’s leading scorer (17.3 ppg) as a sophomore, is gifted enough to earn All-Colorado and perhaps even Mr. Basketball honors this season. He was arguably Colorado’s premier grassroots player in the summer and is a coveted Division I prospect.
Ross will be counted on for his star power and productivity, but Eaglecrest has another returning starter, an under-the-radar forward who, despite averaging only 3.5 points and 3.2 rebounds, was a capable sophomore. 6-foot-5 Nate Bokol, also a baseball player, isn’t sure what sport he wants to play in college, but if he does choose hoops, he has next level talent. Olander is counting on the 2017 big to have an increased role this winter.
“I’m excited to have him back,” he said. “When you return only a couple starters, but its Colbey Ross and Nate Bokol, you feel pretty good about where you’re at.”
“Nate is one of those guys who is incredibly unselfish,” Olander added. “He’s a relentless rebounder. He gives us a post presence inside. We continually work on his perimeter game, but we know he has an inside game. Defensively, he can guard a bigger guy. He’s quick and gets his hands on balls. He takes more charges than anybody we have.”
Bokol, at 195 pounds, is strong and tough in the paint. He’s a presence down low, but wants to add more polish to his scoring ability.
“I want to keep working on finishing at the rim and having a better outside game,” he said.
A good athlete, Bokol can get out in transition with solid foot speed for a big man, a tool that will come in handy this season with another collection of speedy, playmaking guards surrounding him.
His coach is excited at the progress he’s made and thinks the dual-sport athlete definitely has a future in basketball, if he chooses that path.
“He’s got good grades,” Olander said. “I think they’ll be a lot of schools that can use a 6-foot-5 kid that rebounds and can run the floor. If he commits himself to basketball, he can be a really good Division II player.”