Posted On: 11/6/18 1:51 PM
Expectations are always high after a team makes it to the state championship and falls just short in overtime like John Handley did last season to Lake Taylor in the Class 4 Championship. However, when you need to replace three starters who were leading scorers and veteran leaders, it takes a few guys to step up and lead the way if the team is going to continue the success the next season.
For senior guard D’Andre James, he’s been waiting his turn and he’s ready to show that he can not only be the guy, but he can be a leader as well. He expects this Handley team to compete at a high level from day one, much like they have the past two seasons.
“We should still be solid this year,” James said about his expectations this season. “I’m going to have to step up and be more of a leader but we return a lot of players with experience on the varsity level. Losing guys like Michael [Brown], Gus [Wise] and Keevon [Martin] are tough, so we’re going to need people to step up, and we have the guys to do that.”
The 6’3” senior was part of a starting five that was one of the most balanced groups I saw all season. When I saw them in Norfolk at the Scope Holiday Tournament, all five of the starters finished in double figures, including James who finished with 16 points. In the state championship game, James pitched in 11 points and five rebounds in an instant classic.
While James provided versatility and a big body for the Judges last season, this year he’ll have to carry a lot more on his broad shoulders on both ends of the floor. He’s been working on his game all summer and he’s ready to show what he can do when he’s the guy.
“I’d say my game has a guard like feel to it,” James said. “I can get to the basket at will, can play good defense and can finish strong around the basket with my frame. I just need to continue to work on my shot.”
Despite the roster overhaul, James still has senior Kevin Curry who started last season, and senior Sam Wise who was last year’s sixth man. They should have a good blend of size, athleticism and skill across the board, and the expectations are no different than they have been the last few years.
“Win conference, win region and hopefully win states this year. On an individual level I would also like to try to get conference, regional and maybe even state player of the year hopefully.”
While James isn’t a household with colleges yet, he says he has heard from schools ranging from division one to division three. He hopes with a good senior season, he’ll be able to show more coaches what he’s capable of both with his game and him as a person.
“I’m coachable, I’m a good leader and I’m willing to do whatever the coach asks. My motor never stops so I know I’ll put the work in.”
It should be an intriguing season for Handley, but with James at the helm expect them to be as competitive as they have been in the past few seasons.