Sevier County boys basketball team waiting on football additions

Nov. 18, 2013 @ 01:50 PM

It could be a while before you see the real Sevier County boys basketball team.

The Smoky Bears, a game away from the state tournament last year, are trying to replace departed District 2-AAA MVP Devin Schmidt. The complete solution probably won’t come until close to 2014, with a good chunk of coach Ken Wright’s roster still playing in the state football quarterfinals next week.

“We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of experience,” Wright said. “Once we get everybody back, I think by Christmas we’ve got a chance to be a pretty good basketball team.”

Wright brought about seven players to the Sevier County Jamboree on Monday. He said eight football players are expected to join the varsity once the Bears bow out. Sevier County’s football team faces Maryville next Friday.

For now, the Bears are just trying to get some experience for the younger guys that are out on the court.

“Right now we’ve got a lot of guys that are working hard every day,” said senior Trent Pope. “Coach always says he wants second-team guys to want to be first-team guys. ... We’ve got a lot of guys right now that are just kind of wanting to be that second-team guy that wants to be a first-team guy, working hard in practice.”

When Wright does get his full roster together, it should be a pretty good one. Senior receiver Jacob Whaley has started on the basketball court since he was a freshman and Wright expects him to be a team leader this year. Austin Pope, who has dealt with nagging injuries this football season, should be strong in the post. Bailey Fields, Devante Matthews, Jake Grosser and Jesse Adams should make contributions as well.

In the meantime, Wright said Cody Underwood, Trent Pope and Micah Baker will have to carry the load. 

“Right now experience is really hurting us,” Baker said. “Just having experience on the high school level. We really need to work on our defense, especially with help side, communicating.”

Wright said he always builds everything around defense and that will be the focus even when the football players suit up. 

“I just think every team’s going to have a bad shooting night but you better be able to defend,” Wright said. “That just takes effort and knowledge. We expect them to give that effort.”

As for replacing Schmidt, who is now putting up points at Delta State University, Trent Pope said it would be more of a team-wide approach. He said there are several guys who can facilitate and score for the Bears this winter.

“We were a team last year, but we had that go-to guy,” Pope said. “This year we’ve got a couple guys that if we need something we can go to them. We’re more of a squad this year.”