Basketballs will be bouncing in gyms throughout Indiana today, as the IHSAA boy's basketball season officially gets underway. However, don't think for a second that today is the first time that the coaches and players have worked together.
Anymore, the start of the regular season is simply the next step in development for the athletes, as many have been conditioning and working on skill development since the start of school.
North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq has been watching his kids work out throughout the fall and what he has learned is that this group is deep and talented.
“With the depth that we have, I think we can play eight guys,” Khaliq said. “And all eight guys can play.”
The Redskins have been gathering for open gym sessions this fall and the effort and competition has been intriguing for Khaliq and his coaching staff.
“They really have great team chemistry,” Khaliq said. “It's the best that I've seen in a long time.”
Khaliq coached at Elmhurst High School until its closing and this will be his third season in guiding the Redskin program. He received a pair of very large basketball gifts this summer with the transfer of 6-foot-5 players Dwight Richards (Bishop Luers) and Mike Davis (Michigan).
The Redskin players have long been familiar with Richards, who helped the Knights to a SAC title as a junior last season. In the case of Davis, his school in Michigan suffered academic problems with the state and he relocated to Fort Wayne to live with his father.
“Because of the kids that we have, and how accepting they are, they understand,” Khaliq said of welcoming new teammates. “We talk about having a family environment. Families can grow in a variety of ways.”
Davis is already attracting attention of NCAA Division I programs and along with Richards, and juniors Myluv Sutton (6-foot-5 small forward) and Oosha Mitchell (6-foot-5 power forward), North Side could be one of the bigger – if not also better – programs around.
“If you look at our depth and size, we can afford to play Mike at the 3 (small forward) spot,” Khaliq said. “We won't be lacking in size at the other two (frontcourt) positions.”
New face on the bench
Richards isn't the only former Bishop Luers contributor to end up at North Side this season.
After six years with the Knight boy's program, assistant coach Mitch Sturm made the decision to accept a position helping Khaliq with his program.
“Last year there were things outside of basketball, but within the program, that I was not comfortable with,” Sturm said. “At the end of the season, I decided that it was time to move on.”