Less than three months on the job, one month from the first official practice and two months from the season opener, new Kansas City Kansas Community College men's basketball coach Brandon Burgette is chomping at the bit.
"I can't wait to get to Oct. 1 and neither can our players," says Burgette. "I like the pieces we have, pieces at each position with a lot of talent and experience."
Right now, NJCAA rules limit Burgette to conditioning, workouts with an eight hour a week time restriction, "We're using the eight hours to get the guys into shape, to get them to know each other, to find out what we're going to do and able to do and establish an identity."
Five sophomores return from last year's 14-17 team and all five finished among the top eight scorers. To that group, Burgette has added three transfers and eight freshmen since his hiring June 5. With all five of his returning veterans playing the guard position, emphasis was put on size and netted six players ranging from 6-6 to 6-8 in height.
The five returning guards combined to score 49.2 percent of the Blue Devils' 2,102 points in 2018-19. Calvin Slaughter of Macon, Ga., led the way with a 9.8-point average followed by Jalen Davis of Houston (8.1) and assist leader Kelyn Bolton of SM East (6.3 points and 3.6 assists).
The team's top two 3-point shooters round out the quintet. Taylor Turner of Albuquerque, N.M., who had 10 3-pointers in a single game last year, had 48 treys for the season while averaging 6.2 points; Cody Dortch of Paragould, Ark., averaged 5.5 points while notching 46 3-pointers.
Added experience will come from a pair of 6-8 transfers, Sevon Witt of Raytown South who averaged 7.1 points and 3.2 rebounds at Washburn University; and Caleb McCray Jones of Raytown South, who averaged 6.0 points and 2.5 rebounds at Colby Community College. A third transfer, 6-1 guard Ezekiel Lopes of Bishop Miege, was a redshirt freshman at Coffeyville and has two years of eligibility remaining.
Two KCK prospects are among the eight freshmen, 5-9 guard Deangelo Bell from JC Harmon and 6-6 forward Tyione Gilmore of FL Schlagle, along with Missouri area grads 6-8 forward Jermaine Yarbough of Grandview, 6-7 Robert Rhodes of Park Hill South and 6-0 guard Deron McDaniel of Next Level Prep in Wichita, KS.
"A good foundation with experience from our returners and transfers," says Burgette. "We're obviously deep at the guard position but with the new recruits, we've added some big, long athletes who can not only protect the rim but finish above it. We've also got a lot of versatility, multiple guys who can play multiple positions."
Burgette said fans can expect fast paced Blue Devil basketball. "We want to push the tempo and play fast but under control. We'll also press for 40 minutes to try to make teams turn the ball over which gives us opportunities to score off transition in the half court. Depth will be a strength. We have a lot of depth 1 through 15 and any one of several players who can lead us in scoring any given night."