Fletcher Arritt has been at this a long time, so he doesn't get too excited or too depressed early in the season about his team.
However, the veteran coach seems a little more enthusiastic than usual when discussing this year's group. Maybe that's because he has a couple of high-major kids in 6-6 power forward Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, a Milwaukee native who has already committed to Ohio State, and athletic 6-7 rebounding forward James "JR" Hairston, who hails from West Rowan, N.C., and is getting looks from SEC schools such as South Carolina, Auburn and Mississippi.
Arritt's group from a year ago went 26-2, but they will be tested a little earlier than usual this year when they travel to the War on the Shore in Delaware next week. A matchup with Top 10 South Kent (Conn.) is on tap for Friday and another tough battle with another Top 10 club, Winchendon, will follow the next day.
In addition to Jackson-Wilson and Hairston, Arritt has plenty of low and mid-major players. Brian Smith, a 5-11 point guard from Lexington, Ky., who is the son of Kentucky coach Tubby Smith, will likely run the team.
``He's quick, strong and has good endurance," Arritt said. "He shoots it pretty well and plays great defense."
South Carolina native Akeem Hemingway, a 6-1 point guard, returns for another season at Fork Union.
Wings Josh Poston (Myrtle Beach, S.C.), Kyle Cruze (Knoxville, Tenn.), Kevin Hogan (Pensacola, Fla.) and Brian Smothers (Camden. N.J.) will battle for minutes – as will frontcourt players John Stanley, a 6-9 power forward/center out of West Virginia, 6-7 Mason Wooldridge (Palmyra, Va.), 6-7 Vernon Fails (Charlotte, N.C.) and 6-7 Joe Winston (Seminole, Texas).
Poston was injured his senior season, but will get a chance to showcase his scoring ability this year. Smothers is a fluid player who can shoot it, but needs to become more aggressive and Fails will give Arritt more inside toughness and a tough player who can run the floor.