COVINGTON -- There's no doubt in the mind of Newton boys basketball head coach Rick Rasmussen that the players trying out are willing to put in the work needed as they prepare for a basketball-strong Region 2-AAAAAA next season.
"What I've been impressed with the most is that they're working hard and their attitudes are good. There's a lot of learning going on and the guys are improving and getting better. But the work ethic is very good and there's no attitude, just hard work. They seem to mean business and I'm pleased with that," he said.
Even though he has the talent on the floor, the only problem is that no one is rising above the crowd to join last year's starters Jalen Glover and Rashard Cabane.
"We have two returners that appear to be likely starters," Rasmussen said. "From there it's fairly open. We have a bunch of guys competing for different spots. This is our third week of practice and we have it down to about 15 players that we're looking at. Next week we have scrimmages at Monroe Area, Walnut Grove then at Apalachee."
Rasmussen said that there are three players that could play point guard along with six players for a couple of forward positions and that they're about three deep for center.
"Right now there's no clear better (player), it's all wide open," Rasmussen said."I just know that Jalen (Glover) and Rashard (Cabane) are two returners that are going to start. The rest of them are a bunch of good guys that are competing. It's very even."Up for the point guard position are returning senior Jamir Davis, junior MJ Boykin and sophomore DJ Hill.
Also making a strong run to be on the starting rotation are returning junior Taylor Hawkins, junior Rodarius Mitchell and seniors Kishon Rogers and Albert Zachery.
"In some of the lineups I've looked at we could be starting one senior and four juniors or we could start three seniors," said Rasmussen. "It depends on what's going on."
The next couple of weeks are going to be important for team selection as the current summer practice group of 15 players will be cut down to 10 before they leave for their summer camp at Georgia College June 26-27. Before they head to Milledgeville, they will head to UGA to attend a one-day camp at the Coliseum where they will play four games.
"In order to be a starter they have to have a great work ethic and you have to be consistent," Rasmussen said. "You have to get the job done every day because if you don't, then somebody behind you is going to take your spot. When people get their spot and they play well and they're successful as a team then we won't change much. Once you find a combination we won't change much. If it's not working, we'll keep changing until we find the right combination."