South graduated Kyhler Cummings, Robert Dilsaver and Adam Haberkorn, all of whom were four-year starters. Cummings is playing for Laramie County Community College, where he is averaging 3.4 points in eight games with the Golden Eagles (11-2 overall, 3-1 Region IX).
“I kind of feel like I should have graduated right along with them,” Bison coach Jim Shaffer joked.
South brings back junior guards Michael DeBruyn and Marquez Jefferson. DeBruyn is entering his third season as a starter, while Jefferson started off and on last winter.
DeBruyn averaged 11.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game a year ago. Jefferson chipped in with 3.1 points and 1.4 rebounds per outing.
“They’re both extremely quick and experienced,” Shaffer said. “They’re really good defensively when they want to be. (DeBruyn) has also shown the ability to score and (Jefferson) is probably going to score more than he did last season. We expect a lot out of those two.”
The Bison will be undersized yet again this season, which makes rebounds even more valuable, according to Shaffer.
Austin Barker, Brendyn Nelson, Lencho Beltran and D’Antae McCray also factor into the guard rotation. Barker may be limited this weekend due to injury. McCray has attended South before, but suited up for Tabb High in Yorktown, Va., last season.
Senior Shane Dilsaver was a valuable forward both off the bench and in the starting lineup last season. He averaged 3.1 points and 3.1 rebounds last season. He’ll be joined in the post by senior Richard Blackwell.
“(Blackwell) had a great last half of his JV season last year,” Shaffer said. “He also had a pretty good summer. We’re going to be looking for him and Shane to be the two guys who get the job done inside for us.”
Shaffer described Blackwell as a “big, strong, physical kid.”
“He’ll be smaller than most post players, but he can out-athlete them and is as strong as a bull,” the coach said.
Because the Bison are undersized, they’re going to have to make teams defend the length of the court, Shaffer said.
“We need to push the basketball in transition and make the game as fast as we can,” he said. “If we have to play half-court offense or defense against teams that are physically bigger and stronger than we are, we’re going to be in a tough spot.
“Defensively, we have to block out and rebounds and really battle teams on the glass.”