Timberwolves facing major changes | Boys basketball

By David Pan | Aug 21, 2017
Photo by: David R Pan Jackson’s Kevin Han drives to the hoop during a scrimmage against Bothell earlier this summer at Bothell High School.

While it may not be a whole new ball game for the Jackson boys basketball team next season, it will be a different.

The Timberwolves graduated all five starters and a total of seven seniors from last year’s district playoff squad.

“It could be one of the biggest turnovers that I’ve ever experienced,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “Seven seniors, five starters who were seniors. It is a little weird.”

The new-look Wolfpack wrapped up their offseason with team camp at Gonzaga University, following a number of practices, scrimmages and tournaments earlier in the spring and summer.

Johnson acknowledged that building of the 2017-18 team is taking some time, but he said he was encouraged by what he saw from his players.

“It is all brand new. It’s their first taste of anything close to real varsity action,” Johnson said.

Jackson has a couple of returning players who saw some varsity action in junior-to-be Christian Liddell, a 6-foot-1 guard, and senior Paul Doney, a 6-4 forward.

A welcome face who joined his teammates at camp is junior Ben Oleson, who tore his ACL during the football season. Oleson, who was the starting quarterback, missed the entire basketball season. He was cleared by his doctor to return to the basketball court.

“That’s very encouraging as far as his rehabilitation,” Johnson said. “It’s good news for the football and basketball team.”

Oleson does a good job of handling the ball and providing leadership on the court, Johnson said.

“He gives us some speed and quickness,” the Jackson coach added. “He’s a pretty fearless guy.”

Johnson expects Oleson, Liddell and Doney all to have expanded roles on the team.

Junior guard Kevin Han, who played both on varsity and junior varsity, played solidly this summer, according to Johnson.

“A lot of guys showed promise in flashes,” he said. “Kevin was one of them who brought it consistently at a high level in the summer.”

At Gonzaga, the Wolfpack went up against 10 different teams from across Washington, Idaho and Montana. The competition was strong, Johnson said, and Jackson was competitive.

“I look at summer as an opportunity for players to show what they can do and to forge an identity as a team,” Johnson said. “Players develop a little confidence individually and collectively. I think we did that.”

The Timberwolves realized that they can beat good teams, Johnson added.

Jackson likely will be a team that will be balanced on offense with different players shouldering the load.

Ideally, Johnson said he wants the Wolfpack to be “a team hard to guard with multiple guys able to score consistently.”

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