Posted On: 12/15/17 5:15 PM

Six-foot-8 low post player Carlston McKenzie IV is one of several players from Champlin Park ready to take the program forward.

“Things are great, we are off to a slow start but they will get better,” McKenzie told Prep Hoops. “I think our first game compared to our second game was a huge improvement. Our communication was lacking in our first game and that has drastically improved. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.”

With everyone on the team playing a much bigger role, and many playing their first role ever, the Rebels had a tough time with Lake Conference teams Minnetonka and Champlin Park being their first opponents ever.

The Rebels lost both games but as McKenzie said, he’s excited about where he and his team are going.

“I think my rebounding has improved a lot, I focus more on going and getting the ball and anticipating where the ball will come off the rim,” Carlston said.

“My passing is another aspect that I see as one of my best skills especially as a big man. I can always see the whole court and always hit the open man when I get double teamed.”

The Rebels are inexperienced and young, but they are talented. McKenzie, Josiah Strong, and Kelvin Tappa are the only seniors in the rotation. Alex John, Bennett Otto, and Kato Seley are the juniors playing, and the Rebels have three sophomores getting solid minutes too and that is Cooper Olson, Jared Walter, and Juwan Grant.

“We lost 11 of 13 seniors last year which I think to any team is a huge loss. Josiah and Bennett are the only returners with any kind of real varsity time so we have been relying on them a lot in practice to help the younger guys figure out what they are doing.

“We are getting a lot of buy in from the younger guys of our offense and trusting the guys around them. Communication is key and I think once we are constantly all on the same page, we could have a big season.”

Carlston feels he is about ready to have a big senior season.

“Individually I want to get to the point I’m averaging a double double,” McKenzie said. “I definitely think it is attainable with my skill set. Another individual goal is to get academic all-American.

“Team goals are to make it back to state and allow less than 60 points per game. We focus a lot on defense and if we can hold teams to less than that we think we have great opportunities to win games.”

College programs are in contact with McKenzie not just for his size and play but for his academic ability.

“I am currently talking to University of Chicago, Carleton, Lake Forest, DuPauw, Gustavus, and am also looking at George Washington University just for school. I have taken a visit at all of those except Lake Forest and DuPauw.”