Ron Arthur has a simple method for the way he wants his basketball teams to play.
“It's simply play hard, play smart and play together,” said the Shawnee High School coach, who is entering his 16th year at the helm. “It's about not worrying about stat lines. It's make things simple, play and not overcomplicate things. Don't be fancy, just be fundamentally sound.”
Arthur likes to have his teams play with a tenacity on one end of the court which leads to successful execution on the other.
“This team is better in transition than in the half-court. We need to use our talent and length to be able to cause disruptions to other teams' offenses,” Arthur said. “We've got to have people be blue collar. In order to be blue collar it starts on the defensive end.”
The Wolves, who were 14-10 a year ago, will certainly enter the 2019-20 season with some length and athleticism, along with the return of two starters in 6-foot, 5-inch junior post Isaiah Willis and 6-3 inside-outside combo player J'Briell Easley.
“Isaiah did a good job as a sophomore. He was new to the varsity, but started every game and has good inside moves. He can stretch the floor with his 15-17 foot range shot and he's a really good rebounder,” said Arthur. “He's got great quickness for a high school big kid and has the ability to go out on the perimeter.”
Easley is a third-year varsity player for SHS and is described as a phenomenal athlete.
“J'Briell arguably is one of the best athletes in the school. He has great explosiveness, attacks the rim and has the ability to be a great defender,” Arthur said. “He's a multi-sport athlete who is a really good baseball player.”
The Wolves will also rely on two sophomores in 5-9 point guard Jaylon Orange and 6-1 sophomore Tanner Morris.
“Both played quite a bit off the bench as freshmen last year,” said Arthur. “Jaylon is great with his floor leadership, really handles the ball well and is a strong kid. He has the capability of being special player. Tanner is probable our best shooter. He's developing into a good defender. A lot of that is getting experience and getting stronger.”
Six more upperclassmen – two seniors and four juniors – are expected to make major contributions.
Ka'Veon Sharp, a 6-2 senior, was part of a state runner-up team at Earlsboro before sitting out last season and 6-4 junior Joe Maytubby brings strength to the lineup
“Ka'Veon brings a lot of experience. He's a strong guard, physical and an outstanding defender,” Arthur said. “Joe is a strong, physical kid from football, who got a lot of minutes last year and can play inside or outside.”
Karran Evans, a 6-1 junior, and Moses Martinez, a 5-11 senior, are to factor heavily into Shawnee's plans.
“Karran is a multi-sports kid who is also involved in football and track. He's that slasher-type player. From the summer, he may be our most improved player. He has a very impressive summer and is an example that if you put in hard work it will benefit you,” said Arthur. “Moses is a 3-point threat. He's another one of those kids who did not play varsity last year. He is a Shawnee kid who moved away (played at Oklahoma Centennial) and moved back. He brings us a deep threat off the bench.”
Two more juniors – 6-1 Jeffery Hall and 6-2 Dahntay Graham – are expected to make an impact.
“They both can play multiple positions and they both guard well. Game situations will dictate how we use them and the game plan will dictate that as well,” Arthur said. “Jeffery is another one who gives us an outside threat off the bench. He's a blue-collar kid who is really scrappy and a better shooter. Dahntay is probably our best defender. “
NOTES: Shawnee opens the season on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at El Reno. The Wolves play Ada in a home-and-home and will make the short trip to Harrah. SHS will also play Ponca City at Oklahoma State University's Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. The Wolves will also be involved in three tournaments – Tulsa Bishop Kelley, Ada and host the Shawnee Invitational. SHS will also play a 10-game schedule in the Suburban Conference. The Wolves face Guthrie, Piedmont and Western Heights twice while battling Del City, Carl Albert, El Reno and Noble just once. Del City is a new member of the conference this season.