By Justin Sampson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Bill Brown is a familiar name to Ozark Conference and Springfield city basketball aficionados. He coached at Parkview for 13 seasons before resigning in 2015.
Three years later, he jumped at the chance to return to the league when the resignation of Adam Thornhill left a gap at Lebanon.
“I always knew that this might be a position of interest,” said Brown. “I always remember, as a coach, that this was a difficult place to play. We want to continue that and hopefully even improve on it.”
Brown said he stayed patient during his hiatus as he waited for the right opportunity. He believes he has found that with the Yellowjackets and feels energized by the break.
“It’s a very different situation than I had at Parkview. Here I have full control of the middle schools and the youth programs. We have the opportunity to build a program that will sustain for several years.”
He inherits a squad that went 10-16 last season and fell to Willard in the first round of district play. It will be a junior-heavy group that returns the bulk of its starting experience from a year ago.
Quenton Shelton followed up his record-setting freshman campaign by putting up 22 points and 4.3 assists per night while earning an All-Ozark Conference Honorable Mention. He continued his club circuit over the summer with 16U Woodz Elite in Arkansas, racking up several tournament championships along the way. His name is known across the conference at this point, but Brown doesn’t believe that will affect his game.
“As a sophomore, his role changed due to kids graduation. You also start getting the best players guarding you, so that changes the dynamic. He had a great summer and we’re expecting him to have another great season.”
Fellow guard Ethan Christal joined his classmate as an honorable mention after registering 11.5 points per game.
Juniors Jordan Lewis and Kolby Dorris, 6’3” and 6’4” respectively, will join senior 6’6” Dawson Zimdars in the post. Zimdars averaged 7.9 points and 6.3 rebounds in his second year of varsity as a junior. Lewis added a team-high 8.0 rebounds per game.
Senior Brady Hays also returns alongside Bryson Crowell and Jacob Durbin, all with varsity minutes under their belts.
“They’re tough kids and they’re not afraid to work,” said Brown. “They have varsity experience and know what it’s like to play against these conference schools. We’re going to get tested really quickly.”
The non-conference schedule was created before Brown arrived, but he will deal with a stacked card all the same. Kirkwood, Columbia Battle, Columbia Hickman, and Nixa are just a few opponents the Yellowjackets will face before league play.
Brown says the first month will be key and how fast his players can adopt his system will tell a lot about the schedule to come.
“My offense is very controlled and percentage-oriented. They have to learn what I feel is a good shot and bad shot. From there, they’ll need to understand the value of the ball, not turning it over, and defense. If they can learn those three things by Christmas time, we can maybe cause some people some problems.”