Bill Barton is the road warrior. His team fears no one because it plays all comers.
The Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep coach will once again play a schedule laden with games away from Fitchburg, Mass., and loaded with matchups against top teams. He'll head to the War on the Shore, the MCI Classic, Brewster Invitational, Our Savior Tourney, Hall of Fame Classic, Fork Union Tournament, National Prep Invitational and Hargrave Tourney.
In the end, his team will likely have a bunch of losses (last year's team went 30-9) – but his kids will be battle-tested.
This year's cast of characters features a mix of strong big guys, athletic guards and role players who could make this team tough to figure.
``We have a chance to be pretty good," Barton said. "We have a lot of hungry guys with something to prove. We're going to push the ball and try to outscore teams."
``We don't have the superstar we've had in the past," he added. "But it's a deeper team than we've had."
It starts with a tandem of big guys in the paint – Charleston-bound 6-8, 260-pound South Carolina native Josh Jackson and one-time St. John's commit Jonathan Williams, a 6-9, 255-pound Minnesota native who is slowly rounding into shape.
A pair of New York guards will likely see most of the action in the starting lineup. Former Bishop Loughlin star Kojo Mensah (6-2, 175) and Jamal Dart (6-3, 180) give the team plenty of speed and toughness.
``Kojo comes to play every night," Barton said. "He's the best 94-foot defender I've seen in a long time. On the offensive end, Josh Jackson is a steal for Charleston. He's just a scorer."
New Hampshire native Mike Ryan, a 6-3, 190-pound scrapper who can stroke it, could earn a spot with his heady play and ability to knock down the outside shot. Another New Englander, Lowell, Mass., native Fred Kournkorgo, has grown a couple inches and is now a 6-8, 225-pound power forward drawing interest from Toledo, Maine and UNH.
Barton will likely bring 6-9, 205-pound athletic shot-blocker Shawn James, who has only played organized ball for a year, off the bench. If he gets tougher and improves his offense, he should be a Big East player down the road.
Yet another New Yorker, 6-foot, 175-pound guard Cameron Tyler (Queens, N.Y.) will also see plenty of time. So will 6-3, 205-pound wing Brett Carmichael and speedy 6-foot, 185-pound guard Randy Jones, who attended Palm Beach Lakes (Fla.) last season.
Others expected to vie for playing time include guards Antonio Bolling (6-2, 178), Jesse Burton (6-0, 160), Brett Carmichael (6-3, 205), John Blizzard (6-0, 185) and Chase Steely (6-0, 175) as well as forward Anthony Fair (6-6, 210).