Jeannette head basketball coach Adrian Batts conducts practice with some of his players (from left), Seth Miller, Damone Morton, Garrett Elliott and Orlando Morgan on November 27, 2012 in Jeannette.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Washington basketball player Josh Wise.
Jeannette may not be the preseason favorite among WPIAL Class AA boys basketball teams in 2012-13, but the Jayhawks emphatically insist that a deep roster could carry them to their second title in six years.
It is a roster devoid of career 1,000-point scorer Demetrious Cox, the team leader who accepted a football scholarship to Michigan State.
“He carried a lot of weight. It was his team last year,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said.
And while it was a similar sentiment that other Jeannette players and coaches were expressing, there was a fresh anticipation that something special might be brewing this year.
“I feel like there's not so much emphasis on one player now. It's everybody's team,” said guard Duke Brown, one of three returning Jayhawks to average double figures — his 15.1 ppg were second to guard Orlando Morgan's 16.1.
Both 6-foot-3 seniors were joined last year in double figures by then-freshman point guard Julian Batts (10.7 ppg.), the coach's son.
“We're taking the attitude that we're all equal,” Brown said. “We think we're going to be better than last year's team, but we're going to have to rebound the basketball to get our offense in gear.”
The race in Class AA is likely to include Jeannette, which is coming off a 17-9 season that ended with a second-round loss to Greensburg Central Catholic in the PIAA playoffs. The Jayhawks lost in the WPIAL playoffs to eventual champion and state runner-up Beaver Falls in the quarterfinals.
The Tigers, who lost to Imhotep Charter in the PIAA title game, are minus forward Sheldon Jeter — a freshman at Vanderbilt — but return an experienced team led by senior guards Elijah Cottrill (13.1 ppg.) and Drew Cook (10.4 ppg.).
“They are two of the top players in Class AA,” Coach Batts said.
Yet the same could be said for any combination of players at Jeannette. Seth Miller, a 6-5 senior center, and Jordan Edmunds, a 5-10 senior guard — two other returning players — could round out the opening-day lineup.
Batts said he'll also rely on his junior forwards: 6-3 Damone Morton, 6-4 Miles Sunder, 6-3 Mike Wise and 6-5 Jonah Yunker, a transfer from Greensburg Central Catholic.
They are part of a versatile, 14-man roster that the Jayhawks hope will mesh.
“We've still got a lot of kids who didn't play much, but that shouldn't matter,” said the 5-11 Julian Batts. “Everyone understands our system, and everyone is excited about the season.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5617.
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