Posted On: 10/31/15 1:45 AM

2014-15: 7-17 overall; 5-9 in Centennial League; lost to Horizon in first round of Class 5A playoffs

Top 100 Players: Kyle Colen (No. 41 in 2017); John Harge (No. 7 in 2018); Will Becker (No. 10 in 2018); Mue Muewwakkil (No. 14 in 2018); Kyle Cabs (No. 27 in 2018); Jahwan Phillips (No. 32 in 2018); Kenny Foster (No. 1 in 2019)

Key Losses: Shae Wyatt, Delantae Kelly

Key Returners: Colen, Becker

Outlook: New is the operative word for Smoky Hill. New coach. New players. New culture.

Taking over for former coach Keenon Clement is Anthony Hardin, an assistant on last season’s state champion Overland squad who is well regarded for his history of helping develop players in Colorado.

Hardin brings enthusiasm and an edge to a Buffaloes team that is stocked with young talent, including the top player in the 2019 class — 6-foot-3 combo guard Kenny Foster.

Smoky Hill also has five of the top 35 players in the 2018 class, as ranked by Prep Hoops Colorado.

And make no mistake, these young guns will get plenty of run this season. Hardin will live with the mistakes that are inevitable with youth, because he also knows the athleticism and talent of that group will balance the scales.

The young talent on this Smoky squad is balanced. John Harge, a 6-foot-7 versatile forward will be in his first season at Smoky after transferring from Valor Christian. Harge has guard-like ball-handling skills, is quick to the basket and has a quickly developing perimeter jump shot. Will Becker is a 6-foot-7 forward who has made immense strides and is a workhorse on the defensive end. He could eventually blossom into one of the state’s top rim protectors. 

Among the most experienced players Smoky Hill has is Kyle Colen, a point guard whose impressive overall game was on display during the Rocky Mountain Fall Showcase earlier this month. Colen has the toughness coaches covet at the point guard position, and he’ll be counted upon to be a leader for this young but talented team. Mue Muwwakkil, Kyle Cabs and Jahwan Phillips are three more sophomores who will add good depth to the backcourt.

Then there is Foster. While it is important not to heap too much hype and expectations onto freshmen as they navigate the rigors of playing high school ball for the first time, Foster appears to be a special breed. With upperclassmen size and an already polished and vast skill-set, he has the look of a player who can already not only compete at the 5A level, but be a major and immediate contributor — and just maybe one of the top players in the league. What’s perhaps even more impressive: The Smoky Hill staff has already seen Foster assume a leadership role within the team.

Youth might bring a few growing pains as the Buffaloes gain experience, but it should also bring plenty of talent and excitement.