Following a successful stretch at Bunn that spanned 14 years, Gerald Melton was hired at East Wake two seasons ago with hopes of resurrecting the school’s boys basketball program.
But one intangible has affected Melton’s long-term efforts, and it’s one that coaches usually crave to possess from their roster.
In each of Melton’s campaigns, the Warriors have been loaded with experience in the form of five senior starters – an investment problem that Melton hopes to have an answer for when East Wake opens its 2016-17 schedule November 16 at home against Smithfield-Selma.
“It feels like we have started over both last year and the year before,” Melton said. “We are planning on playing more young guys this season so we can build something for the future. We will once again lack experience, but our young guys have some potential.”
The Warriors went 12-11 last winter and finished fourth in the Greater Neuse River Conference standings before falling to powerhouse Millbrook in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs.
Melton won’t be welcoming back many players with varsity playing time experience. That minimal group is led by 6-foot-1 senior wing Zeke Raines – a performer Melton expects to excel when he returns in a few weeks from an injury.
Anthony Jones, another upperclassman, also returns after serving as a backup at point guard in 2015-16, while senior Donald Pinkney should see plenty of minutes at the two-guard position.
The rest of the Warriors’ roster will be new to fans, unless they followed the junior varsity program the past few years.
Melton likes the improvement shown by James Simon, a 6-foot-4 junior post who starred for the JV last season. Evan King, another junior, will also be up from the JV, while six-foot senior Guy Ferguson has impressed Melton after returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that hindered his work last year.
“I think we have some guys in the backcourt who can score,” Melton said. “We have some guys up front who can be good, but they have never played at the varsity level before. So you are not really sure how they will respond at this point.
“We have talent, but it can be a long process to help these guys get the experience we need. We do have a good group of sophomores, so it looks like we should be able to build something for the future.”