Hoops Preview: Lumpkin County Indians
The Indians look to take a big leap last year as a contender in Region 7-AAA. With the amount of talent on the roster and the great coaching in place with Michael Parker and his staff, once again Lumpkin County should find itself in the thick of the region. There’s the opportunity for any team to win on any given night, so the Indians will look to make the most of their opportunities.
HEAD COACH: Michael Parker (3rd Season)
2021-22 RECORD: 8-18, Region 7-AAA 5th
RETURNING STARTERS: 4. Hunter Cooper (SR), Jack Carroll (SR), Preston Cox (JR), Cal Faulkner (SO)
KEY DEPARTURES: Jones Harris (2-time All-Region, 1K-pt scorer)
KEY PLAYERS: Faulkner (All-Region), Cooper (3-yr starter), Cox (2-yr starter), Carroll (2-yr starter), Clayton Woodham (SR, will step in as starter)
OFFENSE: “As always, we will play to our skillsets,” informs Parker. “We want to play a fast and physical brand of basketball. We will get out in transition when we can, but also be able to execute halfcourt sets to get the shots we want.”
STRENGTHS: “One of our strengths will be the experience of our first 5-6 guys,” says Parker. “We return 4 starters from last season, and the anticipated 5th starter this year played key minutes down the stretch last season. Our first 5 or 6 guys have all had varsity experience, have been thru the battles, and know what to expect. Faulkner was a breakout last year, and put together one of the best seasons of any freshman in Georgia. We expect big things during his sophomore campaign. Preston Cox is a workhorse in the post, that gives us a strong, physical presence. Hunter Cooper, Jack Carroll, Clayton Woodham, and Carter DiSanto are seniors that have helped build the program and have a blue-collar mentality that every program needs. The experience of those guys will play huge dividends this season. We have 5 varsity guys that are playing football and leading those guys to the best season in school history. One of our strengths is the toughness they’ll bring, but we also believe that winning breeds winning.”
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: “One of our strengths is also one of our biggest challenges,” adds Parker. “With so many key contributors on the football field, we will have to figure out ways to compete early until they get back in the mix. Once you add 5 players to the mix, getting those guys into basketball shape, figuring out roles, rotations, etc. can take some time. We have a general idea of who our top 5 or 6 guys will be, but one of the big questions will be who ends up stepping up and filling the next few spots. We’ve got a handful of guys that we have a ton of confidence in that are competing for those minutes. They each had some good moments this summer, and we are excited to see who emerges to take those minutes.”
Point blank, the Indians have experienced starters, beginning with the star sophomore Faulkner. With essentially those top 5-6 players that Parker mentions leading the charge, this team should have its best season in terms of wins since maybe 2016-17 (14 wins). The challenge, as Parker eluded to, is wading through the time before many of his guys are done with football. This team has a desire and goal to get to the playoffs for the first time since 2018-19.
“In our locker room, we know what we are capable of,” says Parker. “We have set high expectations for where we want to be at the end of the season, and our guys have embraced those high expectations. It may take some time to gel together with football making a playoff run, and so many of our guys being big parts of that run, but in the end, the expectation is for us to be state playoff team and we won’t shy away from that.”