On Campus: Mount Zion

DURHAM, N.C. – Don't sleep on Mount Zion. New head coach Antonio Fozard has a nice squad on his hands and the Mighty Warriors have mixed in some youth with a strong core of veteran players.

Mount Zion Has Players

There's new leadership at Mount Zion this year. First there was Joel Hopkins and John Lewis succeeded him. Now, Antonio Fozard takes over the reigns as the new head coach. Friday's workout was the most organized early season workout we've even seen from the Durham prep school and there's plenty of talent in the program.

Fozard's backcourt is led by fifth-year prep Roscoe Biggers. A native of New York, Biggers is the best point guard in the program right now. He's receiving looks from schools at various levels.

Virginia native junior Glen Dandridge will likely be the starting two guard and he's a good one with a nice stroke to 3-point range. Norman Simmons, another native of the Big Apple and on Biggers' best friend, is the sparkplug of the bunch. He'll play at the two where he's fiery and energetic. He's the guy who'll chat you up and play some defense to boot.

David "Bones" Bell will probably play at both the two guard and small forward positions. The Philly native defends and is an accomplished passer.

In the frontcourt, Zion will be anchored by two of the best rebounds in high school basketball. Senior power forward Almany Thiero is committed to Memphis. He's a native of Mali as is junior big man Mohamed Tangara. Together these guys give Mount Zion an edge on the glass against every team on their schedule. Both are rangy athletes with bounce and explosion.

Thiero is working on his perimeter game where he's trying to extend his jumper to 3-point range. He's made considerable progress in that area and knocked down more than his share in a recent workout. He falls away from the basket when he's shooting 3s and that's a little odd especially since you want a guy of his rebounding prowess heading to the rim to follow up his shots, but that's a correctable mistake. The bottom line is that the stroke is looking good.

Sophomore big man Kareem Cooper is a lefty with a big-time touch and nice rotation on his jumper. He provided the humor in the workout when he struggled at the line in a free throw drill. After missing three tosses, Fozard told him to head to the 3-point line where he promptly swished a top of the key 3, which gave the Warriors a good chuckle. Cooper hails from Upper Marlboro, Md. He's 6-9 and 285 pounds and he's a good-looking prospect.

Deonte Smith, another Virginia native, helps out on the frontline. He deserves a lot of credit for the shape he's currently in. Smith's lost a lot of weight and it's helped him be a better rebounder who gets off the ground easier. His stamina is much improved and he'll play a key role on this team.

Mount Zion will open its season Nov. 17 on the road at the Pre-Season Invitational in Gastonia, N.C. Their first home game takes place in the Bull City Classic Nov. 23. The Warriors will play their home games in the brand new Family Life Activity Center on their Durham campus.  

Here's a pictorial look at the Mighty Warriors:

Glen Dandridge, 6-4 SG

Just a junior, he provides the perimeter offense as the team's top shooter.

Roscoe Biggers, 5-10 PG

New York native is team's best lead guard.

David "Bones" Bell, 6-6 SF/SG

Goes by "Bone" or "Bones" and should be a high-major signee.

Norman Simmons, 6-5 SG/SF

Looking to kick start his recruitment with a strong season.

Deonte Smith, 6-8 PF

A slimmer Smith will be a major contributor inside.

Mohamed Tangara, 6-9 PF

Mali native is a junior and a force on the glass.

Almany Thiero, 6-9 PF

Another native of Mail and he's ticketed for Memphis

Kareem Cooper, 6-9 PF

Good looking sophomore with a nice touch. He's also the comedian of the bunch. This picture took three takes as Cooper had to approve the proofs until he felt he got the post right.

Asst. coach Baines (L) and head coach Antonio Fozard (R)

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