(Tribune file photo)
Two of them, Austin Danner and 2011 Fort Scott High School graduate Pierce Rienbolt, return from last season's 2-29 team that played the last third of the season with just seven players -- Rienbolt being one of two who walked on in January after the roster was down to five.
Also returning is 2010 FSHS grad Gary Floyd, who played for one month in the 2010-11 season before taking time away from the game.
They will be voices of experience for a team that Cook says has looked good so far in the pre-season.
"We've had several scrimmages," Cook said Wednesday morning. "We've done some things with our rotation that's had us expand our offense more than we've been used to doing. We went to Central Missouri, won one, lost two. But we lost one on a last-second shot and we beat Lewis and Clark by 25. We were up on Missouri State-West Plains by 25 and lost on a last-second shot. So we've competed well.
"We went to Johnson County and played two scrimmages. We lost to Seward County, which is ranked No. 9, by two points. And we beat Colby by five. We've scrimmaged some four-year schools, Baker and Newman, as well to get some experience against bigger players."
The season begins this weekend with the Barton Classic. Friday, the Greyhounds will face the host team, Barton, which was 26-7 last season and finished fourth in the Jayhawk Conference-Western Division. Saturday, they'll face Pratt, another Western Division squad.
"We're hungry, we're eager to get after it," Cook says. "This should make for a good first weekend when we go to Barton."
Barton returns All-Region VI guard Algie Key, who was the West's Freshman of the Year last season. Cook says that Pratt defeated Coffeyville, two-time defending Eastern Division champ, in a scrimmage two weeks ago.
The Greyhounds' first home game will be Nov. 7 against the Central Methodist University junior varsity. Fans who attend will see a team Cook feels will work hard -- on Wednesday morning, there were at least five players in the gym shooting around between classes -- and play well together.
"I think they'll see a brand of basketball that's exciting," Cook says. "We're going to run up and down the court. We have some guys who are athletic. We're going to get after it defensively. And we're going to represent Fort Scott Community College the right way. We're going to be disciplined and professional and we're going to represent the community the same way as well."
Floyd (6' 2"), Danner (5' 11". Shawnee Mission) and Rienbolt (5' 10") are all set to be shooting (two) guards, Cook says. Floyd will start, Danner will bring experience off the bench and it's hoped Rienbolt will be able to use a shooting touch that's been developing in camp.
Danner shot about 39 percent from 3-point range last season. Floyd is one of the team's best defenders and Cook hopes that not having to bring the ball upcourt will help him in his role as a shooter.
Freshman Kevin House (5' 11", Oklahoma City) is expected to be the starting point guard. Cook says he hasn't seen him get rattled so far in the scrimmages. Chakeil Wright (5' 10", Soph., Wichita), a transfer from Dodge City whose first name sounds like "Shaquille," brings some conference experience as his team reached the Region VI quarterfinals last season. Cook says Wright is "old-school" and can hit 3-pointers.
James Fleming (6' 2", Soph., Chicago) is a transfer from Parkland College in Illinois and the expected starter at small forward (the 3). Tyler Adams (6' 4", Fr., Fort Scott) will be his backup. Cook says that the better Adams plays defense, the better he plays on offense.
Prince Samuels (6' 3", Soph., Brooklyn, N.Y.) is a redshirt sophomore and the anticipated starter at power forward. He creates match-up problems, Cook says, and is difficult to defend off the dribble. Elijah Lamb (6' 5", Fr., Raytown, Mo.) and Jason Stoneking (6' 7", Fr., Garnett-Anderson County) are the backups. Lamb "doesn't realize how good he is, " Cook says. Stoneking performed well in the Newman scrimmages and runs the floor well.
In the post, Ray Ray Chase (6' 9", Soph., San Antonio) transfers in from Southern University. He sat out a year after redshirting at Cowley. He's shot blocker who is already picking up some interest from Division I schools. Cook says Chase "sees the game through my eyes." C.J. Hall (6' 7", Fr., Gardner-Edgerton) will back up Chase.
The Fort Scott program has elected to compete at the Division II level for at least this season. Instead of fighting for playoff seeding with eight other teams in the Eastern Division, the 'Hounds are in a mix with conference schools Johnson County, Highland and Kansas City Kansas, and independents Brown Mackie and Hesston. KCK has also moved to Division II this season.
This affects the regular-season schedule as it effectively adds four games that matter as much as a conference game -- two each against Brown Mackie and Hesston. It also makes some Eastern Division games more important than others because only the ones against Johnson, Highland and KCK go toward determining post-season seeding.
"It was weird when we first set this up," Cook said. "From a coaching standpoint, it's an adjustment because we're going to play some (games) that affect our seeding. We want to do well in conference but we have to win those games that affect the seed we'll have when we go to region playoffs.
"I can tell the guys, 'We have to play hard in this game.' And they'll say, 'Coach, we have to play hard in every game, right?' They just know they're playing to get a good seed. But they still want to beat the Coffeyvilles, the Indys, the Cowleys. They want to do well in conference."
Bold -- Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division games.
Italics -- Games that count toward Region VI Division II post-season seeding.
|Nov. 2||at Barton, 7 p.m. (a)|
|Nov. 3||vs. Pratt, 3 p.m. (a)|
|Nov. 7||CENTRAL METHODIST JV, 7:30|
|Nov. 10||at Penn Valley, 3 p.m.|
|Nov. 13||at Hesston, 8 p.m.|
|Nov. 17||WENTWORTH MILITARY, 2 p.m.|
|Nov. 20||HIGHLAND, 7:30|
|Nov. 28||at Central Methodist JV, 7 p.m.|
|Dec. 1||at Butler, 7 p.m.|
|Dec. 5||at Wentworth Military, 7:30|
|Dec. 8||at Brown Mackie, 3:30|
|Dec. 11||at Johnson County, 7:30|
|Jan. 5||at Coffeyville, 7:30|
|Jan. 9||NEOSHO COUNTY, 7:30|
|Jan. 12||ALLEN, 4 p.m.|
|Jan. 16||at Labette, 7:30|
|Jan. 19||KANSAS CITY, 4 p.m.|
|Jan. 21||COWLEY, 7:30|
|Jan. 23||BROWN MACKIE, 7:30|
|Jan. 30||INDEPENDENCE, 7:30|
|Feb. 2||COFFEYVILLE, 4 p.m.|
|Feb. 6||at Neosho County, 8 p.m.|
|Feb. 9||at Allen, 8 p.m.|
|Feb. 11||HESSTON, 7:30|
|Feb. 13||LABETTE, 7:30|
|Feb. 16||at Kansas City, 4 p.m.|
|Feb. 18||at Cowley, 7 p.m.|
|Feb. 20||JOHNSON COUNTY, 7:30|
|Feb. 23||at Highland, 3 p.m.|
|Feb. 27||at Independence, 8 p.m.|