ALBION — Expectations for the Central Noble boys basketball program are as high as the players want them to be.
The Cougars return a lot of talent off last year’s team that finished 16-8 and second in the Northeast Corner conference.
“I think we can be good. It all depends on how well some of the talented kids we have want to play together,” Central Noble coach John Bodey said. “It depends on how good we want to play and how good we want to be on defense.”
Central Noble averaged 66 points per game last season and allowed 57.3 ppg, both are the most in Bodey’s three years with the program.
“If we want to be an offensive team, then we’re going to struggle. If we want to play on both ends of the floor, I think we can be pretty good,” Bodey said.
The Cougars return a solid core of guards, including sophomore Connor Essegian, senior Lucas Deck and junior Sawyer Yoder. Essegian led the team as a freshman, scoring 18.7 ppg, and also collecting 1.4 steals per game. Deck averaged 8.8 ppg and a team-high 4.1 assists per game. Yoder scored 10 ppg. All three shot over 45 percent from the field last season.
“With Connor, Lucas and Sawyer Yoder, we have three guys that can all score. I can’t have a bunch of guys chasing points though. We got to have a team that’s concerned about wins first and not so much about individual goals,” Bodey said. “We got to have our team goals first. Usually, if you hit the team goals, those individual goals take care of themselves.”
After a breakout season, Essegian is already getting looks from NCAA Division I schools, including visits to Belmont and Lipscomb, both located in Nashville, Tennessee. He already has an offer from Indianapolis University, a Division II program.
“Connor, as a freshman, was primarily a knock-down outside shooter. He’s added the drive to his game,” Bodey said. “I think he’ll be much better because he’s going to be able to score off the spot-up three, he’ll be able to drive the ball to the basket and he’ll able to score coming off screens much better than he did last year.”
Deck has been on visits to NAIA schools like Indiana Tech and Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he has a scholarship offer from. Yoder took a visit to Ferris State University, a Division II school in Big Rapids, Michigan.
Bodey said Deck has worked on getting stronger and changing his body, and Yoder has improved his shooting ability and his mental game.
Ryan Schroeder, Myles Smith, Andrew Eytcheson and Logan Gard, who transferred from Garrett, are all expected to have big roles for the Cougars this season. Bodey said Schroeder can do a little bit of everything, Smith shoots it really well, Eytcheson is expected to be a big help on defense and Gard will give Central Noble some size inside.
The Cougars open the season at Canterbury on Nov. 26.