Head basketball coach Seber Windham had five varsity players who didn't come back, as well as six J.V. players. That makes him even more grateful that 6-7 star forward JeJuan Brown was among those electing to return.
"He didn't have that much damage at his house," Windham said of Brown. "Right after the storm most everything was torn up, so he couldn't really do much. Everyone was pretty much waiting for the power to be restored. JeJuan and his family are from West Virginia, so he and his mom went up there for a while.
"He worked out up there and played up there, and came back about two weeks ago. He's ready for the school year. He's ready to go now."
The much sought-after Brown, who has received interest from Big East, Pac-10 and Conference USA schools as well as almost every SEC school, has narrowed his list down to two favorites: West Virginia and Vanderbilt. This week Brown is expected on Vanderbilt's campus for an official visit, while last week he made his official to Mountaineer-land in Morgantown.
A decision should be coming in the next few weeks.
"Right now I think he's pretty comfortable with those two schools," Windham. "He said he had a good time at West Virginia. He got a chance to go to their football game. It's funny, because I think both schools' football teams are undefeated.
"He got a chance to visit the coach's house up there, and got a chance to ride a WaveRunner for the first time. He had a good time, and he's looking forward to his visit to Nashville too."
Last year Windham's Indians finished 26-3 and ranked No. 5 in the state after advancing to the state semifinals. Brown, who averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 blocked shots per game, was an essential part. A true "combo forward", he plays the 3 and the 4 equally well, says Windham.
"JeJuan is an incredible shot-blocker, one of the best I've ever seen. I think last year he had about 11 or 12 blocked shots in one game. He's 6-7, but he plays a lot bigger than 6-7. He can really get off the floor.
"He can go inside-out and make the 3. He's very good at rebounding too. If we hadn't taken him out early, he could easily have had a couple of triple-doubles in a couple of games last year."
Windham has watched Brown improve his game since his eighth-grade year (except for his sophomore year, when he transferred to a school in Jackson).
"Off the court, he's a really quiet kid, a very humble kid," Windham said. "He doesn't really say a lot. The only thing he might say is to talk to his teammates and encourage them.
"On the court, he's a real force. He really doesn't have too many weaknesses. He can guard, and he's very unselfish. He likes to get his teammates the ball. He's just a really humble kid who loves school and loves to play basketball.
"He's got a strong work ethic. After practice, when most of the kids are going in, he stays an hour and shoots, or stays an hour and lifts weights."
No matter which college he chooses, Windham projects that Brown will have very little trouble adjusting to the rigorous world of academia.
"The best thing about JeJuan is, he does his classwork. He's about a 3.2 in the classroom. He's already qualified for college ball based on his ACT, and that's one of the things of which I'm proudest of."