Auburn at Benjamin Russell Basketball

Cliff Williams / The Outlook Benjamin Russell guard Quez Thompson drives the ball against Auburn's defense Dec. 10, 2020.

With its brightest stars in tow after completing football season, Benjamin Russell boys basketball is ready for the start of its 2021-22 campaign.

The Wildcats built from a 3-16 record in 2019-20 to a 7-6 mark last year, and with an offense centered around spreading the floor and allowing their guards to make decisions, hope to come through with even better results this season.

“We’re going to be able to work the ball around and have an open offense, open spread-type offense,” Benjamin Russell coach Jeremy Freeman said. “Something that will give options to each of our guards, being able to penetrate, being able to kick and make great plays from the outside as well as from the inside.”

Freeman feels confidence in the trio of ball-handlers that will comprise Benjamin Russell’s starting backcourt — junior Corri Milliner, junior Quez Thompson and sophomore Chris Foster.

Their handling of the ball, shot creation and facilitation skills are what will make the offense tick.

“Each of them has his own special traits, but for the most part it’s their shooting, ball handling and ability to make other players better,” Freeman said.

Senior T.J. Calhoun will help secure rebounds and provide an interior presence from the forward position.

He’s joined by one SeDarion Morgan, who has not only made the varsity squad but landed a starting role despite being just an eighth grader at Benjamin Russell, a Class 6A school.

“SeDarion has really worked hard at contributing on the defensive end, rebounding and offensively being able to score inside as well as outside,” Freeman said. “He does a great job of running the floor.”

There’s a lot of depth behind them to eat up crucial minutes and keep the starting five fresh, Freeman said.

Jonathan Neloms, Zy Owens, La’Bronski McKinney, Kolby Hand, Weston Blake and Oliver Miller were among the top names mentioned by the coach.

“We’re going to do it by committee,” Freeman said. “Everyone who’s on the team, we never know what situation we’ll be in. So they’re all ready to contribute at any point.”

While Freeman enjoys his team’s ability to space the floor and create quality looks on the offensive end, one area he said they’re still addressing is the defensive side.

The Wildcats will have to take on the right mindset to string stops together, Freeman added. Last year they surrendered at least 70 points in six of their 13 games.

“The first thing that we need to be known as is a defensive team,” Freeman said. “You must have a defensive mindset to be able to stop opponents. Scoring is always something that we want to do, but to be able to defend is what we want to do to continue down the road, to make that stretch that we want to make at the end.”

Benjamin Russell opened its season with a 57-50 loss at Auburn High School Tuesday, but will look to rebound at Briarwood Christian Thursday. 

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