FC hoops teams have busy with conditioning, scrimmage

by Sean Dunlap

While the official start of the varsity hoops seasons remains several months away, Franklin County High School’s basketball teams are gearing up for their respective campaigns with a series of summer workouts, conditioning drills, camps and scrimmages in hopes of building on their recent court successes.

“Both the girls and boys have been coming in and working hard and our participation numbers have been strong,” FCHS Head Basketball Coach Rickey Van O’Quinn said of his hardwood programs’ off-season efforts.

“Our emphasis, since school ended, has been to stay active as teams during late May and throughout June. Summer has the potential to be one of the most important times of the year for us in terms of setting a tempo for the seasons ahead.”

O’Quinn said a lot of what his basketball programs focus on during this time of year is getting in as much physical conditioning as they can, but a lot of time is also spent on the mental preparation and the playing-as-a-team angles.

“We have members of the boys’ team that are also getting ready for football and a lot of girls are gearing up to play volleyball, and the summer allows us to get in some of the elements we want to focus on before our basketball preparations really get rolling in August and September,” he continued.

“The bottom line is that we have a lot of multi-sport student-athletes here and it comes down to maximizing their practice time between all the things they are involved in. I embrace the fact that we have a lot of active kids, and it requires some versatility on their part and for us, as coaches, as well in working with them.”

O’Quinn noted the off-season for the Bulldogs is also taking on a new air of importance as both the girls’ and boys’ programs will be looking for players to step into leadership roles with two senior girls’ players — Ja’Sharreah Hunt and Rylei Turner — and five senior boys’ participants — Caleibria McDonald, Kobe Marshall, Amarion “Mo” Wilson, Iverson Hughes and Craig Jackson — departing following their recent graduation.

“All of the players who moved on were such a big part of our line-ups for both programs and now we’re looking for the girls and boys who will step up next in leadership roles and help us find success,” he added.

“We’ll be filling out the roster, especially on the girls’ side, with players who can contribute to helping us be successful because they’ve played for us in the past. That game experience will be important in terms of helping our leaders rise to the top of their game.

“Where the boys’ team is concerned, we have a lot of guys who have also been in the program, have seen playing time and they’ll be called on to fill the slots we’ll have coming into the season. It’s not easy when you lose the likes of players like Caleibria, Kobe and Mo, and I really don’t think we’ll be doing a lot of the things we did like we did last season.

“June is the time for us to see exactly what our personnel can do on the court and build around that because the games and scrimmages we’re taking part in don’t count toward a win-loss record. This is the perfect time to evaluate those talents and begin to adjust what we will run accordingly.”

The coach noted his girls took part in a quality camp at Copiah-Lincoln Community College at the end of last month and then went to a very competitive program at Jackson State University while the boys had a strong effort playing some good teams at Jefferson Davis County High School and had a 3-0 run through a JSU hoops camp last week.

Through these competitions, O’Quinn said he sees a lot of positives where his returning players are concerned, especially with the likes of three-year starter JaKya Brown returning to the Lady Bulldogs’ court squad along with those who have seen quality playing time in the past like Harmoni Porter, Niyla Wright, De’Asia Buie and Kennedi Washington.

On the boys’ side, FC will benefit from the talents of returning players like Daylen Thomas, Michael Covington, Derrick Wilson and Kentrez Bonds, to name a few, who are expected to make valuable contributions to that program.

“We have a good foundation on both teams that we can build from, and that’s a pretty good position to be in headed into our seasons,” O’Quinn went on to say. “There are always some new faces that will be part of the line-ups and we’re excited to see what they are going to bring to the mix.”

The entire scope of basketball workouts will be trimmed back in July with fall sports teams ramping up their efforts in preparation for their seasons, but O’Quinn said his players taking part in football and volleyball will still be working on things like general conditioning and individual skills training.

Those not taking part in fall sports will be working diligently to prepare for the hoops campaigns at every available opportunity.