By Pat Dailey (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Seymour post player Trent Sampson spent this past summer working for his father’s construction company in California. While he was away, the rest of coach Chris Hastings’ Tigers had no other choice than to assume more prominent roles during summer league play and scrimmages.
It’s an experience Hastings is confident will pay dividends for an otherwise inexperienced Seymour squad. Sampson is the team’s lone starter back from last season.
“The guys had to step up and that was good for us,” Hastings said. “Without being able to rely on Trint to bail us out in certain situations, the guys learned how to get shots on their own and how to get stops without Trint being on the floor. Playing from jayvee to the varsity level, it’s a different world. At least over the summer, the guys made that adjustment very well.”
Seymour is looking to be a surprise. Most outsiders see that the Tigers lost four starters and assume this will be a rebuilding winter for Hastings.
“People are expecting us to rebuild,” Hastings said. “But I don’t see any reason why there should be a letdown. I think we’ll be fine. We had 18 wins last year and that’s where I’m expecting us to be around this year.”
Most of what Seymour will do will start with Sampson, an 11-points-per-game scorer last season.
“He does everything for us,” Hastings said. ““He’s what you want in a leader. He’s very vocal. Everybody looks up to him. We’ll definitely go as he goes. He’s quick and strong. He can go by bigger guys and post up little guys. He’s a workhorse. Last year, he was more of a role player. He was a garbage, utility type who would work hard battling on the boards and look to take a charge. He did a bunch of little things for us. Now, I look for him to take on more responsibility on offense. He’s our go-to guy.”
Sampson will be a bit under-sized as a 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior center.
“You would think he would have to overcome mismatches against bigger guys. But he uses his quickness and strength to his advantage. He causes a mismatch,” Hastings said.
Seymour’s starting five will feature mostly seniors, none of whom averaged more than two points a game last season.
“We had a lot of juniors playing under seniors last year,” Hastings said.
Steele Johnson, a senior, will get his long-awaited chance to take over at point guard.
“He’s a very heady, smart player,” Hastings said. “He uses his intelligence to get to the spots he wants to be at.”
Carson Sturdefant, a senior, will be counted on to provide an outside presence offensively.
“Carson could be one of the better 3-point shooters in the conference,” Hastings said. “He’s a high-energy type who can change the game in a hurry with his ability to shoot the ball. He can get hot in a hurry.”
Evan Crump offers Seymour an offensive threat who can score off his dribble.
“He’s a slasher who can down the mid-range shot,” Hastings said. “We’re expecting him to take a big leap this year.”
Alan Ferrier and Skyler Newman complete Seymour’s top six. Newman is the Seymour’s tallest player at 6-foot-3.
“It’s not the biggest team I’ve ever had, but this is the strongest team,” Hastings said. “The guys have worked hard in the weight room putting on a lot of muscle. That will help keep people out of the lane and we hope it works to our advantage rebounding.”
Hastings said he and his players are welcoming the challenge of pulling out close contests by following a strict game plan.
“Everybody is on-page,” Hastings said. “They know what they are and what they aren’t. It’s one of the most intelligent teams I’ve had. We will be a role-oriented team. We’re not overly talented. But everybody has a disciplined role. Rather than rolling the ball out there and win due to talent alone, we are going to win games by out-executing people.”