PARKER CITY – The Bears are deep, deep, deep.
It’s the first thought that comes to mind when staring at Monroe Central’s 2019-2020 boys’ basketball roster.
The number of good players – no, check that, very good players – for the Golden Bears goes from top to bottom. Most of them are quick, very good ball handlers and very good shooters.
We definitely have a few more pieces this year,” said sixth-year coach Justin Ullom.
So what will hold Monroe Central back this year? Perhaps nothing, but there might be a concern with overall size – the guards are small – and one can never predict chemistry.
The lone graduate from last year was 6-2 big man Taft Manship. Another big man, 6-2 Sam Feola (10.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg), chose to not play this season.
There’s an abundance of returnees who gained valuable experience last season, which will give sixth-year coach Justin Ullom many options.
Sophomore playmaker Jackson Ullom was the top scorer at 18 points a game last year and is back to lead a potent offense. He will be flanked by sharpshooting senior Will Jones (13.2 pgg). The pair combined for 97 three-point field goals last season and both connected on nearly 80 percent of their free throws.
Versatile Logan Patterson enters his senior campaign as an all-around threat. Juniors Caden Shumaker, Bryce Deckman, Landan Patterson all should be important contributors.
Expect sophomores Gavin Smithson Burciaga (6-2) and Joel Kennedy (6-1) to play more prominent roles inside and give the team some extra muscle.
A pair of freshmen in 5-8 Josiah Ullom, a speedster, and 5-9 Luke Jones, a deadeye, who should make immediate impacts.
Mix 6-foot-6 senior Roman Braun into the mix and the Bears have depth to spare.
While Ullom cited the significant improvement of several players, two of them who he specifically pointed to are Smithson Burciaga and Kennedy. They’ve both gotten bigger and stronger and will be relied upon to offer a complement to the team’s strong outside guard play.
“I look for Gavin to have a breakout year, and Joel should be a solid player for us,” he said.
Ullom lists one of the team’s strengths is speed and perimeter play. In the preseason Jamboree on Saturday, the Bears also showed they can use that speed and depth to apply continual full court pressure.
Although Ullom did not list inside play as a weakness, he is curious to see how his team will rebound and defend the post.
“We’re still going to be pretty young. We have two freshman and three sophomores in our top nine players.”
The Bears finished 12- 11 a year ago but finished strong by winning six straight games before losing to Frankton, 61-42, in the opening round of the sectional. Frankton went on to lost to Andrean at the semi-state in double overtime.
The Bears open the season on Dec. 3 at Tipton, an opponent they have never met on the hardwood.