2017 Marshall County Boys Basketball Preview
Tigers change coaches, look to take another step
Former Marshall County coach Arnett Bodenhamer shocked many folks in Lewisburg with a sudden departure to take a position as freshman coach of the Overton boy's basketball team in Nashville this summer.
The charismatic coach left Lewisburg with a 55-36 record that included a magical run to the state tournament in 2015-16 and the Tigers first district champion in 15 years last season.
However, Bodenhamer was never able to beat district rival Christ Presbyterian Academy, leaving the program with a 0-10 record against the Lions just as CPA made the move to DII.
New coach Lavon King, who made the move from historical 1A program Moore County, was not left with an empty cupboard.
Despite losing one of the most memorable senior classes of all-time with Jay Howard, Donathan Tears, Keevon Maxwell, Tre Crutcher, D'Andre Brown, Dayveontae Brown, and Quavion Harris, King returns two of the best players in the entire state in any class in Caleb Fields and K.J. Johnson.
And despite returning just two other players (LaMarcus Dodson and Keshun Gentry) that played meaningful minutes, King feels that some of the other players might surprise some people.
"Caleb Fields and KJ Johnson are the two guys that everyone is looking out for this year," King said. "Both guys have exceptional ball handling and shooting ability to score 20 night in and night out."
"But I think LaMarcus Dodson will be a guy people will be surprised about when it’s all said and done," King continued. "Keshun Gentry and Canelius Turner can really make this team hard to beat with their effort on the defensive end and if they continue being consistent from the three.”
“Jaleel Howard rounds out the group with his potential to play both inside and out at a high level. I haven't got to work with any of the football players so what they bring to the table will be an added bonus."
Fields, a starter since he set foot in Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium, is ranked as one of the top seniors in the state in multiple publications.
The senior point guard can do it all, shooting the three, pull-up jumpers, driving and dishing, or finishing in the paint with a rim rattling dunk.
Despite leading the squad in assists in almost every game, Fields continuously put up huge numbers in the scoring column including a 25-point outburst versus 3A Lincoln County or 22 points versus former district rival Page.
Fields back court mate, K.J. Johnson is one of the top shooters, possibly in the country.
Johnson, who already holds an offer from UT-Martin, can score in bunches as evidenced by a 20-point outburst against Spring Hill that included six 3-pointers, all in the first half.
“My game has changed a lot from last season," Johnson, who is being recruited by Lipscomb, Belmont, Sanford, and Alabama-Huntsville among others, said. "Through the off season and AAU I have worked more on ball handling and increasing my speed to get past defenders so that I will be harder to guard because of the multiple combinations I added to my game . I also have grown in height more so that is a positive thing for offense and defense."
Look for Johnson to light up the scoreboard again in 2017-18.
The junior sharpshooter posted games of 27 points versus Nolensville, 23 points against Christian Academy of Knoxville and a team-high 22-points in the district championship game versus Giles County.
"My expectations for this season is getting to sub-state," Johnson said. "We have a good enough team to where if we do what we are supposed to do and people play their roles then we can go very far."
Helping out Johnson and Fields in the shooting department will be Keshun Gentry.
Gentry picked up some early season starts last season before the football players joined the team.
"I think the biggest strength is having two solid guards that played a lot of minutes last year," King added. "Our biggest weakness right now is depth and trying to get the players acclimated to what I want to do this year."
Gentry can light it up outside and has a nice mid-range game as well.
Gentry had standout games against Shelbyville with 10 points and added nine points in the Tigers comeback win over Memphis Manassas.
Holding down the inside will the big man, LaMarcus Dodson.
Dodson got some spot starts under Bodenhamer, but this will be the year to make a mark.
Although not as tall as some of the big men in district 12-AA, Dotson can bang with the best of them and is a capable scoring inside.
Dodson had an eight-point outburst against Nolensville but did most of his damage in the rebounding department.
Some of the unknowns are Andrew Gold, Canelius Turner, Jaleel Howard, and Devon Wilson.
All four players picked up minutes sparingly last season, but will be counted on for big minutes after the graduation of such a big senior class.
King will inherit a huge freshman class that includes middle school standouts A'Ky Howard and Silas Hurt, along with Bryson Hughes, Gannon McMahon, Parker Little, and three-point specialist twins, Kaamil and Jaamil Hazel.
Also, King picks up a bonus with seniors Brandon Rowan and Taylor Clark coming to the basketball squad straight from the gridiron.
The Tigers will join an almost entirely new conference by the time the district season rolls around.
Page and Spring Hill made the jump to 3A while Cascade reclassified to 1A.
The lone holdouts with the Tigers are Nolensville and longtime rival Giles County.
The new faces on the block are Murfreesboro Central Magnet and Community, who made the jump from 1A with intra-county neighbor Forrest.
"The first home game versus Siegel will be big, they are a good measuring stick to see where we are and where we need to go," King said. "Of course Giles County and Nolensville are the two teams that I constantly hear about playing. The guys are looking forward to playing Forrest mainly because they are in our county and we have never played them."
"I think like all coaches your eye is on the gold ball," King said. "You want to win district and you want to win region but at the end you want to be the last team standing with a W."
0 Caleb Fields
32 Brandon Rowan
24 LaMarcus Dodson
15 Jaleel Howard
34 Taylor Clark
1 Keshun Gentry
3 KJ Johnson
5 Canelius Turner
11 Devontavious Wilson
20 Andrew Gold
10 Silas Hurt
12 Kaamil Hazel
14 Jaamil Hazel
21 Gannon McMahon
22 A’Ky Howard
35 Bryson Hughes
2 Parker Little
2017 Marshall County High School Schedule
|Tuesday, Nov. 14||at Fairview (HOF) W 80-54|
|Thursday, Nov. 16||at Fayetteville (HOF) W 79-63|
|Tuesday, Nov. 21||Siegel W 85-75|
|Friday, Nov. 24||Pickett County (Mitch Wilson State Farm Classic at Cannon County) W 92-72|
|Saturday, Nov. 25||Smyrna (Mitch Wilson State Farm Classic at Cannon County) W 58-41|
|Tuesday, Nov. 28||Columbia Academy W 67-53|
|Friday, Dec. 1||at Stratford L 82-91|
|Tuesday, Dec. 5||at Lawrence County L 68-72|
|Friday, Dec. 8||Huntland W 78-54|
|Saturday, Dec. 9||at Whites Creek L|
|Tuesday, Dec. 12||Columbia W 57-54|
|Friday, Dec. 15||MBA|
|Tuesday, Jan. 9||Community D|
|Friday, Jan. 12||Murfreesboro Central Magnet D|
|Tuesday, Jan. 16||at Forrest D|
|Friday, Jan. 19||at Nolensville D|
|Tuesday, Jan. 23||at Giles County D|
|Friday, Jan. 26||at Community D|
|Monday, Jan. 29||at Murfreesboro Central Magnet D|
|Friday, Feb. 2||Forrest D|
|Tuesday, Feb. 6||Nolensville D (Pink Out)|
|Friday, Feb. 9||Giles County D (Senior Night)|
|February 12-19||District 5AA Tournament|
|February 23-28||Region 6AA Tournament|
|March 3||State Sectionals|
|March 7-10||State Tournament|