CARTERVILLE — The John A. Logan College basketball teams will feature new looks this season.
Amanda Shelby’s women’s squad has a distinctly local flavor – six of the 13 players are from Carbondale, Herrin, Marion and West Frankfort. In addition, new assistant coach McKena Miller hails from Carbondale.
And, the men’s team … that’s just new. Coach Kyle Smithpeters has just one returnee from last year’s 24-7 team, West Frankfort’s Aaron Twist.
Local players wearing the Lady Vols’ uniform this season include Skylar Miller, Johnecia Kyles, and Kallie Bacon, all of Carbondale, Hannah Groutage of Herrin, Morgan Griffith of West Frankfort and Marion’s Nia Marshall.
“I think that’s really awesome to have them in Logan uniforms,” said Shelby. “And, it’s not like they just come in, they’ve stepped in and done great things for us already. It also means bringing more family and friends and hopefully filling up the stands.”
Shelby made a conscious effort to recruit locally last year.
“There are cycles where one season there may be a lot of local talent and the next year there may not be,” she said. “This was a cycle where there was a lot out there. We almost got every single one of them.”
The Lady Vols went 16-13 last year. The roster this year is comprised of eight sophomores and five freshmen.
“At the end of last year they came to me and said they wanted something better than 1613,” Shelby said “I think we’re better already this year because of better chemistry.”
Destiny Cozart is the leading scorer returning from last season. She averaged 14.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
In the meantime, Smithpeters faced an almost complete rebuild this year.
“We’ve started over,” he said. “The one thing we have, I think it’s a testament to Aaron Twist, is how the culture kind of stayed in place. We always talk about establishing culture, maintaining it, improving it, Aaron has done a great job of bringing forth a great work ethic.
“As far as X’s and O’s, that’s going to take a while. We’re getting there, it’s just a matter of playing with each other. That just takes time.”
As a result of the youth, Smithpeters targeted some transfers. One of the transfers is Jaiveon Eaves, who played at the University of Evansville last year. He also got Derek Hawthorne of Marian University and Ben Moss of North Iowa College.
“You can either be really young or really old, and you’re really kind of lucky if you’re in between,” Smithpeters said. “This year we have a little bit of a balance, but we’re all brand new. It’s one of those things we’re able to dodge some things by having a couple more transfers.”
Look for the Vols to be more defensive oriented this year. Logan has played in six jamboree games and only one team has scored more than 50 points.
Both the man and women kick off the regular season Nov. 4 at Carterville.
The teams were introduced to the public Tuesday. Prior to the introductions of the teams, athletic director Greg Starrick announced that the John A. Logan athletic department will be unveiling a new website, www.govols.com on Nov. 1.
“We hope we’ll be on the cutting edge of everything that is going on with social media,” he said. “We’re doing all the things we should be doing on social media. You can actually go to Facebook and watch our games this year.”