High School Boys Basketball

New-look Falcons working to get up to speed

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 11/19/20

Following his team’s impressive and surprising run to the regional quarterfinals last season, Tompkins boys basketball coach Bobby Sanders had every reason to be optimistic heading into this season.

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High School Boys Basketball

New-look Falcons working to get up to speed

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Following his team’s impressive and surprising run to the regional quarterfinals last season, Tompkins boys basketball coach Bobby Sanders had every reason to be optimistic heading into this season.

But the roster underwent heavy change during the offseason, as the number of returning players dwindled from five to three.

“It was discouraging at first,” said Sanders, whose Falcons were affected by the transfer of two players who had figured prominently into the program’s future. “But then I realized we had replacements in some pretty good players.”

Junior sharpshooter B.B. Knight II is the headliner, the team’s top scorer and only returner who saw significant playing time last season. The 6-foot-5 guard started the season off hot, scoring 33 points and drilling a program-record eight 3-pointers in the Falcons’ season-opening 69-51 win over Aldine. Through the first three games, which Tompkins won two, Knight made 13 3-pointers.

But he has a lot of new faces around him. The other two returners are junior guard Nick Lancit and senior forward Jason Resewehr, little-used role players last year now assuming starter’s minutes. And the other two starters are freshman guard Luke Coughran and junior forward Joel Oluokun.

“It will take time to gel and create chemistry,” Knight said. “We’ll get better over the season. We have a lot of potential. Once district comes, I feel like we’re going to be really good.”

The offense revolves around Knight, who is using his size and length more and showing a nice post-up game this season. One of the top shooters in the city of Houston for the class of 2022, he worked on ball-handling and conditioning over the summer.

Knight’s always been a lights-out shooter, but he’s making more of an effort to attack the basket and make plays for himself or others. What helps is the versatility, shooting and diversity of talent that now surrounds him.

Lancit is emerging as a heady floor leader, a quiet playmaker who finishes well around the rim and can hit 3s. Resewehr is a matchup nightmare as a player with size who can spread the floor. Senior Jackson Schulenberg is a shooting specialist off the bench.

But the difference-makers are Coughran and Oluokun. Coughran comes from Tays Junior High, where he averaged more than 20 points per game. A capable shooter himself, he opens things up for Knight.

“When you’ve got just one knockdown shooter like we’ve had with B.B., it makes things tough because defenses can key on him,” Sanders said. “Now you’ve got somebody like Luke on both sides of the floor and he can shoot that thing.”

Sanders said Coughran earned his varsity roster spot with his work in practice and scrimmages.

“Since day one, he’s showed that he belongs,” Sanders said. “He’s earned his way here. Nothing was given to him.”

Coughran is a strong ballhandler and doesn’t hesitate to shoot. He has maturity beyond his basketball years. From the second through fifth grades, he played up a grade in competition.

It shows. Even as a freshman rotation player on the varsity level, he is fearless and does not lack confidence.

“From eighth grade to varsity, it’s a big adjustment,” he said. “I just have to play my game and find my fit with the team. I’m a shooter, so they look for me for shots. Me and B.B., we’re finding ways to play together as two guys who can really shoot.”

The 6-foot-6 Oluokun is a raw talent who played at private schools his first two years of high school. Last year, he played at St. John XXIII in Katy.

Oluokun gives Tompkins a legitimate interior presence.

“He changes everything, because he alters shots in the paint, gets easy rebounds and he’s got a soft touch on his shot,” Sanders said. “We’ve just got to get him to play at a (Class) 6A speed.”

Sanders said it is a shift mentally and physically for players to acclimate to the 6A varsity level. But Oluokun has the athleticism and quickness to do so. He is a unique talent, as comfortable diving to the rim for splashy dunks as he is attacking the basket off the dribble.

“I feel I can be a much better player here,” Oluokun said. “I can learn more about the game. I’m around guys and coaches who can uplift me and push me to that next level.”

Overall, Sanders said he is encouraged by his team’s camaraderie, something he doesn’t take for granted.

“These guys actually like each other,” the veteran coach said. “They hang out together and they treat each other like they’ve known each other a long time, even with a lot of new guys who weren’t at our school last year. The second thing is they’re all coachable, which is not normal for everybody to be. But all of them are.”

No longer is Sanders discouraged. Optimistically intrigued, perhaps, could be one way to put it. Hopeful would be another.

There is a lot to like, a lot of mixing and matching that can be done, especially with more players coming on board once football season is over. Junior Joshua McMillan II, a star wide receiver for the Falcons, is also highly regarded as a talented point guard.

“They’re exactly where I expected them to be,” Sanders said. “They’ve just got to get used to things. You’ve got a freshman who’d been in eighth grade and a junior who’s been in private school for two years with a bunch of JV guys. The speed is just a lot faster at this level.”

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