With 30 years of combined coaching experience at their respective schools, North Idaho College’s Corey Symons and Community Colleges of Spokane’s Jeremy Groth know a thing or two about building competitive rosters at the junior college level.
Sometimes that takes time during the season to mesh as year to year, rosters are shuffled and reshuffled with a plethora of freshmen and transfers.
Spokane has 13 new men on its roster, and North Idaho has eight different faces as each prepare for the upcoming Northwest Athletic Conference season.
“The toughest thing with juco (junior college) is just building chemistry,” Symons said. “You’re always turning over your roster so much.”
The 13 new players on CCS are by far the largest Groth has had in his 11 seasons leading the program.
“It just happened to be where we lost five or six guys who were with our program for three years and then we had five or six guys also that were freshmen that had their degree in two years,” he said. “So it is better for them to move on to just continue education or play somewhere else, too.”
This season, Symons had his players raise their hand if they were the best players on their high school rosters. Everyone raised their hands.
While roster shakeup is commonplace at this level, it doesn’t change the messaging.
“That’s kind of our biggest challenge early on,” Symons said. “And what we’re going through now is trying to get everybody to buy into our program, buy into our success, and buy into each other. Because, like I said, we have a lot of good players, but we only have one basketball team.”
Spokane has reloaded with more talent this season.
“We’re thankful that we have some really good players coming in,” Groth said. “They’re freshmen that should be able to contribute right away, but also at the same time, some of these transfer guys that came in are ready and they’re seasoned.”
Groth added: “I’m excited to see just the product and how it all kind of comes together and looking forward to the journey.”
Two players Groth will be relying on are transfers Carter Brown, a 6-foot-2 point guard from Western Nebraska, and Trey Stevens, a 6-2 guard from Reed, Nevada, who was a starter at Menlo College.
Brown and Stevens will be instrumental in what the Sasquatch want to accomplish, Groth said.
“Those would be the two guys right away that are transfers that we’re hoping (will) have a major impact,” Groth said.
Mead’s Zack Reighard, University’s Conrad Bippes and Clarkston’s Wyat Chatfield are also on the squad.
The Cardinals return their leading scorer, Julius Mims, a 6-9 forward who poured in 17.4 points a game last season.
Also providing big minutes will be sharpshooting Taden King and third-year player Brendan Johnson. Versatile Xavier Bailey will also be an important piece.
A DI transfer from Idaho State, Kyle Karstetter figures to make an instant impact, as well.
NIC has a few local freshmen sprinkled on its roster: University’s Jeremiah Sibley, Liberty’s Tayshawn Colvin and Lakeland’s Jalen Skalskiy. Sophomore Riley Sloan played at Shadle Park.
The two programs play each other in Spokane on Jan. 21 in Coeur d’Alene on Feb. 22.
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