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Summer gives Jags time to work on hoops skills

  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Myles Pinckney drives to the basket during a summer workout.
  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Coach Kevin Wilson explaining a drill to players.

In the summer, even in the mornings, the Ridgeland-Hardeeville High gym is hot.

Inside, the air feels thick and heavy, like just after a big rainstorm. That heat makes the boys basketball summer workouts stretch on seemingly forever.

Ridgeland-Hardeeville’s basketball team has spent the summer mornings in the gym, putting up shots, practicing moves and getting better.

The offseason is the time for growth and player development. It’s when guards work on new moves attacking the rim, practice their long and mid-range jumpers off the dribble, when post players work on footwork to help them create space at the rim.

It’s the time when average players morph into good players, and the good players evolve into elite players. While head coach Jeremiah Faber runs the show during the school year, assistant Kevin Wilson takes charge of the offseason.

“You have the time to get yourself prepared and work on your skill set — get your level of skills higher,” said Wilson. “You have more time to work on individual skills.”

Monday through Thursday, players voluntarily arrive at the gym at 8:30 a.m. Wilson puts them through grueling work: full-court ball-handling drills, defensive drills, finishing drills, all in the first hour. With the heat, it doesn’t take long for players to become drenched in their own sweat.

“We have a faithful few coming in and getting their work in and working on basic skills,” Wilson said. “We’re working on some concepts for next year — what we want to run. Right now is light work, I won’t touch any weights until August. But one of the disappointing things is that I also have not gotten the participation and commitment from players returning players coming in to work. They need to get their basketball work.”

The workouts aren’t mandatory, and in many ways that’s a good thing. The players that show up each day demonstrate a commitment to get better.

And in three months, when preseason and the regular season starts, the fruits of their labor should start to show.

Each player is different and has different skills to work on. For Myles Pinckney, the summer is about developing sound fundamental skills. Pinckney plays small forward.

He’s only about 6 feet, maybe 6 feet 2, but he’s strong and runs like a bull — fast and hard. Last season he played on the JV team under Wilson. His work ethic and athleticism was enough to help him dominate the JV, but at the varsity level, under Faber, sheer athletic ability will not suffice.

The team also united by participating in camps. The camps created an environment, away from the gym, from Ridgeland, for the players to bond and team build.

“We’ve been to several shootouts,” Wilson said. “We went to Charleston for a shootout, Effingham, Hilton Head and we did the team camp (at Presbyterian College). It was conditioning, it was grueling. Went left there 13-4. We played some great schools and got good work in.”

Maybe more importantly, team camps give players exposure to recruiters, creating contacts and opportunities for players to reach the collegiate level. While at Presbyterian, Rashamel and Devin Butler both left an impression on college coaches, and were invited to an elite camp at Landers College.

“Rashamel has gotten his shot better and we’re riding him on his decision making. He has to make the team go,” said Wilson about Rashamel’s offseason focus. “With his brother Devin, he was settling for the jumper last season, but he has such a great body and explosion and we’ve been working on him getting to the basket and finishing. We’ve been working on that with them.”

Come August, SCHSL forbids team basketball workouts, so Wilson will transition to weight training and conditioning for any interested athletes. He stressed the importance of spending time on the court and in the weight room. The stronger a player is, the better he can become.

Thankfully for the players, the weight room at RHHS is a bit cooler than the gym.

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