``Now more kids are calling and more coaches are recommending kids," said Russell, the coach of the second-year TAPS program. "Last year we couldn't get into a lot of the good tournaments, but that's changing this year."
Russell will have plenty of talent this season and the headliner will likely be 6-5, 210-pound senior wing Kamar Burke.
``He's my most versatile player," Russell said. "He can play point guard, can come off screens and shoot the three and also runs the floor and finishes. We can put him at four different positions."
Russell will also have a pair of former signees – at least until December.
Oliver Prince, a 6-5 senior forward, signed with Pepperdine and will head to college for the second semester. Ditto for Andrew Lomond, a 6-7 power forward, who will stick with his commitment to Florida Atlantic and leave for the Sunshine State after the first semester ends.
Chris Middleton, a 5-10 post-grad, will run the show. He's more of a combo guard, but Russell is confident he can learn how to be more of a pure floor leader this season.
Raseedi McKinley is a 6-4 post-grad who should see plenty of time in the backcourt. He's an athletic shooter who can also play the point.
``He's a hidden gem," Russell said. "He went to a small high school, so no one really knows about him."
Russell will bring some size off the bench with 6-9 senior Julian Martin, who is attracting interest from Illinois State and Oakland. Martin is athletic and just needs to focus on getting better.
Another big body off the bench will be 6-9, 240-pound junior Dob Mavrak, a big, strong rebounder who is getting looks from UNC-Wilmington and St. Bonaventure.
Other reserves include forward Oneil Mongal (6-5), guard Jumol Mullings (6-1), and a trio of 6-4 shooting guards in Daniel Smith, Akim Brown and Tyrone Dawkins.
``I like this team a lot because we have a lot of multi-faceted players," Russell said. "Guys that can play the one, two and three and really run the floor. We'll trap full-court and have our guys run the floor and get into the passing lanes."