GREENBELT – In his 14th season as head coach of the boys basketball team at Eleanor Roosevelt, Brendan O’Connell is reloading his roster with experience and depth talent to better compliment his senior guards Isaiah Gross and William & Mary commit Cameron Brown.
The experienced group, featuring seven seniors on the roster and several four-year varsity players, will hopefully push the Greenbelt squad back into the state final picture. A stunning home defeat against Bladensburg on March 2 put the Raiders’ championship desires on hold last season.
Roosevelt graduated two impactful seniors last year in Jaden Faulkner (Millersville University) and Justin Bailey (Chestnut Hill College). Brown and Gross, varsity players at Roosevelt since their sophomore year, say they are ready to start the season as the focal points of the team.
“These guys have been on varsity since their sophomore year and their experience and leadership was just incredible but we return a huge ton this season,” said O’Connell.
“It’s going to feel great to go out there and play my final season,” said Brown. “I’ve been waiting for this season for a while, I’m just ready to go out there and hoop with my team.”
The Raiders have a deep roster that excels beyond Brown and Gross. Skilled guys like forward Quinton Mincey from last season and guard Kyle Rose, a transfer from Rock Creek Academy, add an extra punch on an already loaded Raider roster. Already known by several Raider players through Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournaments, Rose has already received offers from University of Massachusetts Lowell, Bryant, Howard and Rider University.
“Kyle is another powerhouse player that has this type of swag to his game,” said Gross. “Playing AAU with him and Cam, he is fitting in really well at Roosevelt. He brings that motor to our team and more senior leadership.”
During the offseason, freshman guard Willie Rivera excited the coaching staff with his play in the Capitol Hoops Summer League, leading to O’Connell to announce that he plans to utilize him earlier than expected.
Meanwhile, with six-foot-six center Miles Allen graduating last year, the Raider frontcourt consists of returning players Thomas Whitley, Jahmal Cochran and Brandon Thomas. Whitley is going to be a huge factor for this team contributing inside and outside, O’Connell said.
“The chemistry is getting there and pieces are going to be put into place,” said O’Connell. “These guys just show all the talent and depth of this year’s team.”
The Raiders have a loaded start to their season. First, Roosevelt will head travel to Phoenix, Arizona to take part of the 2018 Hoophall West Tournament, which features some of the top teams and talents in the country, to play Corona del Sol on Dec. 8. They open their conference schedule with a road game at DuVal on Dec. 11 before their home opener against WCAC Champions DeMatha, who have Villanova commit Justin Moore on their team, on Dec. 13.
Despite the rough start of the season, the ceiling is crazy for this Roosevelt team, Brown said, and it will just come down to if he and his teammates can to reach it.
“We can’t worry about anything else but everyone in our circle,” Brown said. “We need to make sure everybody buys in.”