By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
Bush was ranked second in the state in preseason polls and the Broncos are expected to take first place in District 20-6A as they return four starters from last year’s 28-7 team.
Bush is led by 6-foot-2 junior Bryson Etienne who averaged 17.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last year. He was voted all-district last season, and is an all-region pick by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches for this year.
“We don’t watch the rankings or the individual awards. We try to set the bar really high and always try to play at that high level,” Etienne said.
Etienne, like all his teammates, likes to shoot the three, but will also slash to the basket.
The other three returning starters are 6-foot-3 senior Jalon Robinson, and juniors Peter Byrd and Remy Minor. Robinson averaged 12.1 points per game and 2.5 rebounds per game last year.
“We really don’t pay attention to the rankings because we know how well we are playing. We use our speed to our advantage. We want to get down and score fast so we can get on defense and pressure them,” Robinson said. “Our defense feeds our offense.”
The Broncos play four, and sometimes five guards/wings in their offense.
“We have a fast-paced offense, and a high-pressure defense. We have a lot of guards so we can move the ball up fast,” Byrd said.
Byrd, a 6-foot-1 junior, averaged 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game last year.
Remy Minor, a 5-foot-8 junior, averaged 10 points and 3.1 assist per game last year.
“We want to score fast but if the shot isn’t there, we don’t rush it,” Minor said.
Trevion Bradley, a 6-foot-5 senior, brings board strength. Bradley averaged 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last year.
This group of players has been together for a long time.
“Bryson (Etienne) and I have been playing together since fourth grade,” Byrd said. “And we’ve been playing against Remy (Minor) since the fourth grade.”
Minor is quick to bring up the game winning shot he made against Etienne and Byrd in one of those fourth-grade games.
“I remind them about it almost every day,” Minor said.
While Bush is the pick to win the district, Austin and Travis are lurking in the wings.
“Austin and Travis are our rival games. There is a lot of talking going on when we play those teams,” Minor said.
Travis returns four senior starters from last year’s 30-5 team. Cameron Hill, a 6-foot all-district pick last year, is a three-year letterman, as is Golden Amadi, 5-foot10. Both Anderson Tolbert, 6-foot6, and Morris Udeze, 6-foot-8, are two-year lettermen and will provide rebounding and toughness. Evan Miles, 5-foot-9, is also a two-year letterman.
“Offensively we want to push the ball and play unselfishly. We have guards who can create but also strength inside with Udeze,” Coach Craig Brownson said. “Defensively we want to dictate to the offense through our pressure and defensive effort.”
Bush and Travis meet on Jan. 6 and Jan. 31. Both games will be at Wheeler Fieldhouse.
Austin returns three starters from last year’s 21-11 team. Senior Dymond Hanks, 6-foot-3, and juniors Derrick Williams, 6-foot-3, and Eden Holt, 5-foot-6, were second team all-district picks last season and will be needed to step if the Bulldogs are going to challenge Bush and Travis.
Marshall is picked to take first place in District 23-5A. The Buffalos are led by John Walker, a 6-foot-8 wing/power forward, who averaged 12.6 points per game last year. Walker has committed to Duquesne University.
“John is a highly skilled player that can affect the game with his size and athleticism which enables him to play above the rim,” assistant coach Marcus Ebow said. “John can make 15-foot jump shots, with his range also extending beyond the three-point line. He is also a very capable ball handler and passer.”
“We run a motion offense. Everyone can handle the ball so we are always cutting to the basket,” Walker said. “Most of the guys on the team have been playing together since middle school. We have been waiting for our senior year since middle school. We are here and ready to do it.”
Jabari Rice and Tajzmel Sherman, both 6-foot-3 seniors, will be counted on to contribute both points and defense.
“Rice is our most versatile player. He can play both guard positions and is our best perimeter defender. He will be the anchor of our defensive schemes and strategies,” Ebow said. “Sherman is our team’s most dangerous three-point shooter, and he is very effective slashing to the basket and finishing at the rim. We will count on him for an increased leadership role.”
“Our defense creates a lot of steals. We really work hard on our press,” Rice said. “We spend a lot of time running in practice so we can press the whole game.”
“Our team is looking promising. We still have some time before district starts to work out some things,” Sherman said.
Sherman is the team’s three-point shooter.
“As soon as I cross half-court I start looking,” Sherman said with a laugh. “I like to push the ball up-court and play a fast-paced game. On defense, we are real aggressive. Our press is phenomenal,” Sherman said.
Senior Daquazemarr Wyche is the point guard.
“I like to bring the ball up fast. We like a fast-paced offense,” Wyche said.
On defense, Wyche takes the opponents best player.
“I like the challenge of shutting down their best,” Wyche said.
“Being ranked first in the district is good for the program, and it’s good for the kids. I don’t pay any attention to pre-season rankings. I feel we should earn our ranking,” coach Gary Nichols said. “We have a good group of guys. That’s what makes it fun.”
Elkins lost in the 5A state championship game last year, but five lettermen return for another run at the championship. Seniors Chandler Jacobs, 6-foot-2, Glorious Chkwem-Stanley, 6-foot-6, Larry Kuimi, 6-foot-6, and Wentrell Williams, 5-foot-11, and junior Heath Jackson, 5-foot-9, will lead the Knights.
In pre-district play, Elkins beat Marshall 56-54 and has lost to Bush twice, 59-55 and 65-53. Elkins and Marshall meet on Jan. 3, and Feb. 3.
Fort Bend ISD boys basketball tournament
Sam Houston beat Travis to win the Gold Division of the Fort Bend ISD Boys Basketball Tournament held last weekend. Arlington Bowie beat Elkins to take third place and Marshall beat Bush to take fifth place.