"It's All About The Game"
Preseason '12 - Potomac is both favored and questioned
Ron Bailey, Publisher
The Wolverines could be poised for big things.
November 1, 2012 - After making the Maryland State Regional Finals last year before falling to Thomas Stone, and returning not only one of the Free State’s best players but a guy that can hold his own against the nation’s best, many have marked Potomac High School for success this year – some even believe the PG 3A/2A/1A division is a wrap for the Wolverines. That thinking is logical, yet there is a person inside the program that both embraces and questions it. He’s the squad’s second year coach.
“I hear those things, I try not to listen to them” said the Wolverine’s bench leader, head coach Renard Johnson of the positive talk, expectations regarding his program, and related pressure. “Last year they had us picked 10th. That was probably more pressure to show how crazy they were”.
Dion Wiley is a dynamic scorer.
“Pressure is what you let it be” he continued, standing after school in one of Potomac’s hallways, before donning his proverbial coach glasses. “I’m just more…it’s so uncertain now. I lost eight seniors who played their butts off for me last year. I don’t know what these guys are going to do”.
One of those seniors was Valshawn Wallace, a 6’4” rugged inside player that now attends St. Francis of PA, where he’s on scholarship as a tight end in football. According to Johnson, Wallace “was huge for us. Let somebody else in the county lose a guy like that, and they’ll be talking about rebuilding. And he was a vocal leader”.
But to be clear, Johnson has a more mature, experienced Dion Wiley to fall back on. His presence drives much of the high expectations surrounding the program.
A 6’4”, junior wing scorer who if is not the best shooter in the DMV, prominently sits on the short list, Wiley can also pass, makes the right basketball play, and competently drive. Johnson on whether Wiley is PG County’s best player: “He’s the best in a lot of counties (laughter)”.
The likes of Cincinnati, Virginia, Maryland, Georgetown, Villanova, Virginia Tech and Miami have all tendered scholarship offers to Wiley. A slew of other schools are recruiting him.
To Johnson, even Wiley has room to develop, as he hopes the standout, who averaged close to 19 points, seven rebounds and four dimes as a sophomore last season “steps up more as a leader”, including being a vocal player. Johnson believes Dion has the capacity to do it.
Randall Brody could be a chief addition to Johnson's lineup.
In addition to Wiley’s leadership development, Johnson has eyed other issues with his crew, one being centered around experience or lack thereof, as “The only guys coming back are Dion Wiley, Ramon Saunders, and two guys who didn’t even start last year. I’m bringing back 2 starters, that’s’ it”.
Count point guard as one of those inexperienced slots: “I don’t know what we have. We lost our point guard last year (Mark Givens ); he’s going to be a lot to replace. It’s a question mark, as it stands now”.
One possibility could be transfer Randall Brody, a 6’2”, athletic guard who arrives at his neighborhood school from St. John’s College High School.
“I’ve been familiar with him for several years through the boys club and the community” shared Johnson on Brody. “He’s obviously belongs in our community in terms of school zones. He’s a pretty good player. He has to obviously learn a new system, nothing is a given. He has to learn everything”.
With the ability to play all three perimeter positions, Johnson is not locked into just how he’ll utilize Brody. The coach did allow “From what I’ve seen, he’s good at all of them (point guard, shooting guard and small forward). Time will tell. He’s going to play all of them”.
The Wolverines are not in a fall league, opting to have “Really stressed academics. We don’t need surprises”, according to Johnson, “I think given the coaching staff, we can be prepared for our first game December 7th”.
Practice starts November 13th, at which point Johnson will know whether Wiley et al have and/or are able to accept their challenges and roles. “I’ll tell you what; they can take whatever role they want” he said with a smile on his face. “Come November 13th, I’ll see if somebody took a role, and I’ll take a role, roll right on them (if not)”.
If he sounds hard to please, Johnson is; he has larger designs than typical hoops success. “I humbly want to put together a team that’s comprised of good young men - this program is designed to try and get kids in college” he shared. “If we win two games and some championships, that’s all the better”.
The 2012-2013 season presents Potomac’s boys basketball program an opportunity to not only win games and exceed last season’s 18-7 clip, but getting the school another state ‘chip (last obtained in 2005), while also putting good guys in college.
It all starts November 13th, with the team’s first official test coming a few weeks later.
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