A coaching transition is always tough for a high school program. You have to learn the style of play the new coach brings and learn his or her tendencies. Fortunately for the Mercer County Titans boys basketball team, it will be an easier transition for most. Enter new head man, Josh Hamlin.
This is Hamlin’s first career coaching job after being in the Mercer County basketball programs for four years now. Hamlin previously served as assistant coach on the 2016 Lady Titans state championship team and learned a great deal from Lady Titan’s head coach, Chris Souder, whom he calls a mentor. Hamlin hopes to achieve that same success on the sidelines of the boys team for the 2017-2018 season.
In order to achieve that type of success, you have to have quality young men on and off the court and it starts with senior guard and serious Mr. Basketball candidate, Trevon Faulkner. Faulkner returns after having a historic junior season for the Titans. He eclipsed the 2,000-point total last year while averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds per game. His ability to score and rebound the ball will only put opposing defenses on their heels. Faulkner is one of the best players in the state of Kentucky, and the Northern Kentucky University commit hopes to lead his team back to Rupp Arena for the Sweet Sixteen.
The Titans lost key scorers from last season due to graduation. Rhyan Lanham, who averaged 10 points per game last year, was the second leading scorer on the team behind Faulkner. Garrett Dean averaged 9 points per game and was the guy who consistently did the dirty work for his team. Four other seniors were lost: Grayson Blevins, Seth Tatum, Andrew Bray and Jon Dunning. Although the last four didn’t score as much as Lanham or Dean, they impacted the games in other ways. Making hustle plays and being at the right place at the right time was what these seniors had a knack for. It will be hard to replace that kind of passion and leadership on and off the floor.
“Those seniors were such a great group. They were what’s right about high school basketball,” said Hamlin. “None of them went on to play college basketball, but they came in every single day and brought a level of intensity to each game and practice. They showed how much they cared about the program with the pride and passion they played with.”
That type of leadership and hustle is tough to replace but a couple underclassmen are ready for the task. We talked to Hamlin about the startling lineup, and while nothing is set in stone, this is a preview of what the Titans lineup will look like before their first game. Hamlin said the beauty of this team is that a lot of players can step into different roles and play different positions.
“I think depth and the level of skill that we have is going to end up paying off for us,” said Hamlin.
With experienced starters on the roster (Trevon Faulkner, Gunnar Gillis, Carter Baughman, Kaelin Drakeford and Ty Divine), the Titans hope to erase last year’s memory and return to Rupp.
Full roster breakdowns are in this week’s issue.
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.