The Indians begin the 2019-2020 season with plenty of unknowns.
They return just two players with any real extensive varsity experience — Kole Browne and Braden Ray.
Madison Central has limited size and only two seniors.
The Indians have more depth than in recent years, though, and plenty of youthful talent.
All those factors have left Central coach Allen Feldhaus with the challenge of how to best put all those pieces together.
“We’ve got Braeden and Kole, after that, well, I really don’t know,” Feldhaus said. “There are eight or 10 who are in the mix and I keep telling them everyday that I wish someone would step up and say, ‘This is my spot.’ We need to start playing against other people to see who is going to step up.”
Even after a competitive summer schedule and months of practice, playing time and starting spots are still up for grabs.
“It might go game-by-game or play-by-game to see who is going to be in there,” Feldhaus.
Browne and Ray will certainly be in the line-up.
They played in all 31 games last season and made big contributions as sophomores.
Browne, 6-foot-3, averaged 11.1 points (third-best on team) and 4.0 rebounds a game. He also hit 41 three-pointers, second-most on the team.“He’s the most athletic player we have. He’s probably our best defender. We’ve got to get him to rebound. He’s got to be on the mix on the glass,” Feldhaus said of Browne.
After the graduation of standout center Isaiah Cozart, the Indians will look for Browne to more of a factor on the glass — and more of a leader.
“He just needs to do more — of everything. He’s going to get a lot of attention and he needs to make his teammates better,” Feldhaus said of Browne. “I wouldn’t ask him to do that if he wasn’t capable.”
Ray, 6-foot-1, hit a team-best 56 three-pointers last season and averaged 8.9 points a game.
The guard has gotten stronger and is looking to be more versatile, especially on offense.
“Last year, he was just a three-point shooter. He probably is going to the basket more than anyone,” Feldhaus said of Ray. “He’s really worked in the weight room.”
Junior Luke Coleman has emerged Central’s top point guard. He’s just 5-foot-10, but is tenacious and steady.
“He’s consistent. You know what you are going to get from him,” Feldhaus said of Coleman. “You are going to get a good effort. His lack of size can get him in trouble, but he’s gotten stronger. He will fight and battle.”
Carter Buckner played junior varsity, but he might be the best pure shooter on the team.
“He might be the strongest player we have on the team,” Feldhaus said of Buckner. “He’s a catch-and-shoot guy. He can get hot.”
Taishon Chenault, 6-foot-2, junior, is back on the team after a year away.
He gives the Indians some size and athleticism, along with senior William Jacobs (6-foot-3) and junior Alex Rogers (6-foot-1), who will split playing time at center/forward.
Sophomore Will Hardin could break into the rotation along with a pair of freshmen and an eighth-grader.
“I have some options. I don’t know if that’s good or bad,” Feldhaus said with a laugh.
Jaylen Davis, 6-foot-2, 138 pounds, has not played a minute of varsity action, but already has an offer from EKU. The freshman is a good shooter and can crash the boards as well.
“Physically, it’s going to take awhile, but he’s going to be a really good player,” Feldhaus said of Davis.
Trey Skaggs, 6-foot-4, could also made a big impact this season. The freshman is the tallest player on the team and got into 12 varsity games last season.
Eighth-grader Kenyatta Hardge helped Caudill win a middle school state football championship last month. He also has the potential to be a big asset to Central this season.
“I’m not going to be afraid to put him in there,” Feldhaus said of Hardge.
The Indians really only used six players at the varsity level last season and they scored 1,947 of the team’s 2,041 points.
Four of those players are gone from a team that won 17 games and a 44th District Tournament title.
So, it may take some time for everyone to adjust to new roles.
“It’s going to take me a while to figure how this bunch is going to play,” Feldhaus said. “We are doing a few things differently, especially defensively.”