Submitted photo Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen comes up with a play during the summer camp at UGA's Stegeman Coliseum
COVINGTON -- Newton's boys basketball team finished its three-summer camp schedule at Mercer, Georgia and Georgia College with an impressive 19-4 record. But more importantly, it gained valuable experience.
"Overall, I was pleased with the summer practice and how coachable this group was. They have great hard-work attitudes. I think that we'll be better than we were last year," Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen said. "I'm excited about this group of guys."
Despite playing tougher than normal competition, Rasmussen thought his team could have gone undefeated if they could have gotten break here and there. But at the same time he's glad they didn't beat everyone they faced. While no one likes losing, Rasmussen feels it's important not to make a team feel that they're better than they really are.
However, winning felt good, too. Especially their win against Tift County in front of Georgia head coach Mark Fox. The UGA coach was there hoping to bring Tift County's point guard to Athens.
"We held him to about 10 points," Rasmussen said. "He (Fox) said something to our point guard, D.J. Hill, he said that was a great team win and he said to D.J. that he had great court savvy. He recognized that our guard play is particularly good. That was a big win for us.
"The week before at Mercer we beat Wilkinson County, they're the defending Class A champions. We beat a really good Lambert team and Athens Christian. We played some really good competition."
Besides the play of Hill, a junior, Rasmussen was also glad to see the improvements of seniors Jalen Glover, Brandon Lybrand and Taylor Hawkins and junior Tarik Rogers.
Glover is becoming a team leader while Lybrand and Rogers were did a good job keeping the inside defended. Also showing vast improvements from last season is Hill who is maturing while scoring 20-plus points a game. He also had limited turnovers over summer play. Rasmussen said that as Hill played the team played.
But the best surprise was the play of rising freshman Darvin Jones.
"Right now he reminds me a lot of Derrick Henry when he was young. But he's ahead of where Derrick was because Derrick was not a 3-point shooter," Rasmussen said of Jones. "Darvin, if he gets his feet set, it's going to go in over 50 percent of the time. In our last game against Lambert, he was 5-for-7 from the 3-point line.
"We don't have size so we're struggling on rebounding. That of course is a crucial thing. We're going to have to work really hard to be tenacious and aggressive near the goal trying to rebound."