Blogs > Burney's Bytes

Burney's Bytes will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Training Camp Report - Back For More

There will be little to no drop-off in play when defending boys state hoop champion, Birmingham Detroit Country Day hits the floor on Tuesday night against Southfield-Lathrup in its season opener. The Yellowjackets return a bulk of their line-up from last season when they went 26-2 and claimed the school's eighth state title banner in dominating fashion, winning their seven tournament games by an average margin of victory of 21.5 points per contest.
All-American point guard Ray McCallum, Jr. may be gone, playing down the road for his dad in college at UofD-Mercy, but Country Day remains stacked to the gills with talent and will once again be the team to beat this season in Class B. Head coach Kurt Keener, the man personally responsible for turning the Yellowjackets into one of the state's true glamor programs over the past two decades, doesn't expect his team to miss much of a step when it gets back to work next week.
"The expectations will be high, as usual and as they should be," he said. "There's lots of experience with this group and we have the chance to be really good again if we stay focused. They've had a lot of success and by the way they've been playing since we started practice a few weeks ago, they're still hungry. That's a good sign."
Headlining the attack for Country Day this year will be 6-foot-11 all-state senior center Amir Williams, ranked as the second best prep post prospect in the nation by ESPN and signed to play his college ball at Ohio State. Williams averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks per game last year in his first season as a starter and reigned terror down upon opponents with his variety of steadily-improving moves in the paint.
Replacing McCallum, Jr. as the team's floor general will be senior Chris Fowler, the Yellowjackets second-leading scorer through the first half of last season before getting sidelined with a year-ending knee injury. Fowler is a playmaker and will act as the team's vocal leader.
Lee Bailey, Adam Zavadil and Mahesh Umansankar all return in the backcourt and will flank Fowler on the wings. Bailey is an ace defender with a nose for the basket who, like Williams and Fowler, will be entering his third year on the varsity. Umansankar is a superior marksman from long distance and will keep teams honest, preventing them from double-teaming Williams too much with his frequent red hot shooting streaks. Zavadil, a transfer from the Czech Republic last season is a jack-of-all-trades type with outstanding fundamentals who broke into the line-up late in last year's tourney run and has improved greatly in the offseason.
The forward spots will be manned by returnees Kenny Knight and Carter Elliott and newcomers Jodan and Austin Price, a pair of lanky and athletic transfers from Indianapolis. Knight is a rangy swingman who often doubles as a human pogo stick and similar to Bailey is a standout defensive specialist. Elliott is a lunch pail forward who loves to bang and will augment Williams nicely on the block.  
Expect fab frosh, Maury Diane (pronounced DEE-AHNEE) to see spot minutes early on as he gets his feet wet at the varsity level. Diane is a 6-3 wing who has been wowing coaches and scouts alike the past few summers on the AAU circuit with an array of explosive outings on the national stage.
Keener likes his team's versatility
"I think we'll be able to work a real classic inside-outside game between Amir and the guards because they can all shoot the lights out," he said. "Our defense is very sound and these guys all know how to win, so it should be a fun year."  


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