MIDDLETOWN — Entering his third season leading the Middletown High School boys basketball team, Darnell Hoskins feels the Middies have the potential to take a step forward.
In the next breath, Hoskins said they’re a process that can’t be rushed.
“Patience with a sense of urgency,” Hoskins replied when asked about his message to the Middletown faithful. “We want to win, and we want to win now. Wins come as a byproduct of doing things the right way, and we have to teach them how to do it the right way. We want to win, and we are going after it like now. How quickly we grasp the style of play we want to play will control that.”
Hoskins said this Middies team will have a much different look than his first two seasons, and he believes Middletown fans will appreciate the new look.
The Middies were more halfcourt last season, utilizing the size of 6-foot-11 E.J. Williams and 6-6 Jawunn Bailey. But with the departure of those two to graduation, Hoskins is ready to run again.
“I am ecstatic we are getting in shape enough to play the style of basketball I have always coached,” he said. “We want to play fast. We wanted to play fast, but the last two years the personnel we had dictated we couldn’t play fast. We weren’t proficient to guard on the perimeter or push the ball, but this group can do that. Obviously it is a work in progress, but we have four or five guys who can rip the rebound and go.”
The Middies have a senior-laden squad to run the new look, led by 6-0 guard Aaron Jones, who is the leading returning scorer after popping in 8.7 points a game a year ago while leading the Greater Miami Conference with 2.2 steals a game.
Another pair of senior guards could have big years, according to Hoskins. KeiAunte Powell (6-0) and Chance Walker (6-3) both can score in transition and saw significant time a year ago.
Middletown also showcases seniors Shandon Morris and Kadar Gardner, a transfer from Dayton Dunbar.
“Our hometown guys, our seniors, have shown great leadership and helped change the culture,” Hoskins said. “They buy in to what I am selling, and they have a desire to change things.”
Hoskins said 6-3 sophomore Johrdon Mumford and Lakota East transfer Rob Thompson, a 6-0 sophomore, are both names to watch.
“(Mumford) will be good this year and really, really good next year,” Hoskins said. “(Thompson) is another guard who can shoot it.”
With the focus on playing up-tempo, Hoskins said he will have a number of guys handling the ball this season.
“We will definitely be a point guard by committee,” he said. “We don’t’ have that one guy who will handle the point.”
After enjoying a plethora of size the past two years, Middletown now finds itself guard-oriented with the exception of 6-6 senior swingman Chris Stallworth, who averaged 5.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last season.
“(Stallworth) is our only guy over 6-5, so we need to get buckets in transition,” Hoskins said. “He is truly the last of the Mohicans when it comes to our size. We will continue to play inside out, but we are not going to post you up and pound the ball down low. “
Defensively, the Middies will play up-tempo and pressure the ball at all times.
“We are going to press people sunrise to sundown,” Hoskins joked. ” We have the depth this year to get it done. The guys have bought in and continue to work. It will take some time to get this style down. We are built for this style, but just because you are built for it doesn’t guarantee success.”
Coach: Darnell Hoskins (third season)
2017-18 Record: 6-17 overall, 5-11 GMC (seventh place, tied)
OHSAA Classification: Division I
Schedule: Nov. 30 — at Kings, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 4 — Dunbar, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 7 — Hamilton, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 8 — at Lima Senior, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11 — at Lakota West, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 14 — at Princeton, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 18 — Belmont, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 21 — Mason, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 4 — Colerain, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 8 — Lakota East, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 11 — at Sycamore, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 15 — at Mason, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 18 — Fairfield, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 19 — Midwest King Classic vs. Elder, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 25 — at Oak Hills, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 26 — The Hill, The High, The Valley vs. Saginaw (Mich.) Arthur Hill at Saginaw (Mich.) Valley State University, 5 p.m.; Jan. 29 — at Hamilton, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 1 — Lakota West, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 5 — at Lakota East, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 8 — Princeton, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 12 — Sycamore, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 15 — at Colerain, 7:30 p.m.