CHUCK Butler’s summer has been all about observation.
Since this is his first summer session as Jackson County’s boys’ basketball coach, Butler wants makes sure everyone gets an extra long look.
The program, which will play 23 scrimmages by summer’s end, has had as many as 35 kids practicing.
“We told the guys really this summer we’re focused on evaluation, evaluating them individually,” Butler said Friday. “We have made no cuts this summer. We’re going to just take a look at everybody and evaluate what fits us best as a team.
Some Panther basketball players are already earning high marks.
Butler — who served as interim coach for the final seven games last year before assuming full-time duty in the offseason — is tasked with replacing the top two post players off last year’s squad, which finished 7-19. To that end, the coach said that Jacob Lewis and Cory Ramey have both exhibited some strong play thus far.
“So far we’ve really been impressed with Jacob Lewis,” Butler said. “He’s come on because we’re a little undersized. He’s really stepped up and done a lot of rebounding.”
Butler added that Ramey “has done a good job under the goal for us.”
With no player on the roster taller than 6-2, Jackson County will look to make up that difference with strong guard play. Butler said that Malik Wade, a rising junior point guard, has stepped up his game on the perimeter, as has Jase Latty, who Butler said has demonstrated a lot of leadership.
Because of that dearth of height, Butler plans to implement a style of play that relies on speed and spreading the floor.
“So that’s been our big focus, trying to make people play our style of basketball, which is more of the uptempo so that the height doesn’t become a big problem,” Butler said.
The coach said his first summer at the helm has definitely been beneficial. Butler said he got a little head start on the evaluation process since he coached the team for the final stretch last year, so he’s actually been able to do more than just evaluate this offseason.
“It’s just really laying down our standards and expectations and how we’re trying to do everything because it is different,” Butler said. “We’re trying to make it a very disciplined program. It requires a lot of them and there’s a huge level of accountability.”
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