FORT MILL — New Nation Ford head boys’ basketball coach Michael Tew surveyed his new group of players with pleasure.
“I am pretty pleased and excited about this group,” he said. “The guys are getting after it and playing hard.”
In his first year as head coach for the Falcons, Tew comes to Nation Ford from Colleton County where he served in the same role for nine seasons.
The Falcons were picked to finish seventh of eight teams in Region III-AAAA, but Tew feels like his squad can surprise some of them.
“You never really know,” he said. “I feel like we are better than that.”
Coming back for Nation Ford this season will be leaders like seniors Riley Hilton and Desean McCain as well as some younger athletes in sophomore Hank Tuipulotu and Jordan Causey.
“We got a nice mix of guys coming in,” Tew said.
One player expected to help Nation Ford in the middle is 6-foot, 6-inch John Kemp.
“He has made a lot of progress,” Tew said of Kemp. “You can’t teach ‘big’ and he gives us an option of playing with a bigger line-up.”
Tew said he looks for Hilton to help lead this year’s team, which will open things up Dec. 3 at Hunter Huss in Gastonia, N.C.
“We look for big things out of him,” Tew said. “I am excited about coaching him.”
Tew said the team’s height should help them this year. Besides Kemp, the team has several players taller than 6 feet. However, he also said height won’t matter if the team doesn’t take care of the fundamentals of the game.
“We are stressing the little things,” he said. “We have to rebound and take care of the ball.”
Tew said he realizes the team is in a transitional phase right now while the players get uses to him and vice versa, but he also compared it to putting a car together, saying everybody has their role and not everybody can drive the car.
“The guys are buying into it,” he said.
Nation Ford will stay close to home this holiday season playing two tournaments in Rock Hill. The first one is Dec. 20-23 and the second is Dec. 26-28.