By Tyler Thompson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The name Milleson is relevant throughout the game of basketball.
Former Missouri State Lady Bears and current George Mason University head coach Nyla Milleson found great success on the hardwood at both Drury University and Missouri State University.
And now, her son, Barrett, looks to emulate his mother as he enters his fifth season as head coach of the Cassville Wildcats.
The basketball bloodline runs deep for the Millesons, and the younger Milleson looks to take lessons learned from his mother’s experiences and apply to his program again this season — a program that finished 14-12 last season (Class 4 District 12).
The Wildcats lost Ethan Hoppes (all-district, all-conference) to graduation, but the landscape continues to evolve this season.
The Wildcats return six seniors, and welcome one transfer senior (Steven Riley), from Berryville, Texas.
Three returning starters have given promise to the current landscape, Milleson said.
A landscape that fields a great deal of depth.
“This is my fifth year and will be the deepest team,” Milleson said.
Transfers to Cassville are far and few between, so Milleson is welcoming Riley with open arms.
“We don’t get a whole lot of move-ins in Cassville, but this one is Texas-bred. He is a post player and projects to help us,” Milleson said. “We are led by our three seniors … three returning starters, two of which have started since they were sophomores.”
DJ White and Jarrod Wallace (6’3” forward) look to lead the core this winter, and will be complemented by their senior counterpart, Carson Roller.
“Wallace has had varsity time since he was a sophomore; really long and athletic,” Milleson said. “He can create mismatches really well. He can beat you in a variety of ways.”
White was named all-district and second team all-conference last season.
White is the all-state wide receiver for the Wildcats football program — showing depth and versatility on the hardwood as well as the gridiron.
“He has an incredible amount of accolades,” Milleson said. “He is an incredibly accomplished athlete. He is a guy we will run a lot of things through.”
White is expected to score his 1,000th point midway through the season, but the gridiron is where his true passion lies.
“He will go play football somewhere,” Milleson said. “He’s realized there are more scholarships in football than basketball.”
But the two-sport mentality serves as an extension of the coaching staff: just one more positive for Milleson and company.
“It is wonderful. And the best part of it is he is a great leader and person,” Milleson said of White. “It is a dream come true when you can have, arguably, your best player be great on and off the floor.”
The other two returning seniors with starting experience are Roller — a 6’3” guard — and Wallace.
“He can shoot it, make plays, and score in many different ways. He is going to be really tough and come into his own this year,” Milleson said of Roller.
Other seniors include: guard Dane Martin, guard Jake Thomas, guard Kel Wilson.
“Our seniors are pretty tough. Hopefully this will be our best season thus far. The goal of building a program is to keep growing, so that is the goal.”
Returning juniors who look to give added depth include guard Carson Whittemire and forward Killian Barbee.
The Wildcats open the season on the road at the Marionville Tournament, Dec. 2-7.
The home opener is slated for Dec. 10 against Neosho.