Maintaining that level will be a little more of a challenge for the War Eagles in the 2013-14 season after losing a number of key players from last year’s 23-5 squad that lost to Region 6AAAA rival Columbia 71-60 in the Class AAAA quarterfinals.
“It’s been good,” Marist coach Greg McClaire said. “It’s been a good thing because I knew the kids would work hard. Everyone has been here since seventh grade. We try to develop them as seventh-graders, have them play good man-to-man defense, so the development in the lower grades has helped.”
The War Eagles lost several players who have moved to Division I colleges, including Quinton Stephens (Georgia Tech), Greg Taboada (Stanford for football), David Onuorah (Cornell), Daniel Morrison (Air Force) and Brandon Young (Georgia as a walk-on).
“Those guys playing Division I are about at a 3.5 grade point average combined,” McClaire said. “All those kids got into school academically, not just athletically. So the success we’ve had on court has been awesome, but the things that happened outside it is awesome.”
Marist will have somewhat of a different look as a result, with less size in the frontcourt and more of a guard-oriented attack.
“We lost a lot of horses, lost a lot of height,” McClaire said. “We lost guys who were 6-5, 6-6, 6-8, 6-9. But this year, it’s a different dynamic. So we’re going to miss out on some height, but it’s a guard’s game now anyway.”
The War Eagles certainly have some talent in their backcourt, with 5-foot-11 senior Bobby Perez and 5-11 junior Cameron Wiley – both Division I prospects – teaming up to provide a formidable guard combination.
“I think my backcourt is one of the best backcourts in the state at any level,” McClaire said.
Six-foot-5 sophomore forward Patrick Veeck, 6-6 senior forward Mark Foreman and 6-3 senior guard Tyler Hughes – a UNC-Asheville baseball signee – are also expected to play key roles.
Adding to its already impressive depth, Marist is waiting for the arrival of some key players who are playing on the school’s state playoff football team – 6-5 senior forward and Georgia football signee Kendall Baker, 5-11 senior guard Marcus Miller and 6-2 senior forward Ross Cooper.
The quest for another deep postseason run won’t be easy for the War Eagles, who will have to contend with a challenging Region 6AAAA schedule that includes last year’s Class AAAA runner-up Columbia and AAAA semifinalist South Atlanta.
“We’re in a tough subregion,” McClaire said. “Columbia and South Atlanta are tough and Chamblee will be good again. Grady will be good. We will have some tough teams in Therrell and Stone Mountain. They’re going to be hard-nosed, gritty teams, inner-city Atlanta teams, which will be good for our guys.”