The first official practice of the 2020-21 high school basketball season began last week.
Last season was Creighton Prep’s sixth straight state tournament appearance. A quarterfinal state tournament loss to rival Omaha Westside provided some offseason motivation.
Here are notes and observations from the Jr. Jays practice last week.
Balance, depth and experience will be key to Prep’s success this season. The Jr. Jays return four-of-five starters and five of their top six scorers from last season. Nebraska football commit AJ Rollins returns and has the ability to be a double-double machine. As a junior Rollins was second on the team in scoring (11.2) and led the team in rebounding (6.1).
In recent years Prep has been able to shoot with high efficiency. Last season was no different. The Jr. Jays were 49% front the field, including 39% from 3-point range. This season should be no different. Senior wing Brendan Buckley was 43% from behind the arc last season and averaged 11.1 points per game. Buckley, like the rest of his teammates, has improved his athleticism and shooting ability. He will likely be the go-to player in key offensive situations.
Senior point guard Justin Sitti has developed nicely in the offseason and will likely take on a much larger scoring role this season. The Morningside commit averaged 7.6 points and led the team in assists (3.8) and steals (1.7). The primary ball handler on the team he averaged just two turnovers per game.
Junior Luke Jungers (6-9) has the ability to stretch the floor. As a sophomore he shot 56% from the field and 51% on 47 attempts from behind the arc. His physical development continues to improve and so does his ability to rebound and defend in the post. If he can take another step and average double-figures in points and close to double-digit rebounds the sky will be the limit for Prep this season.
Senior Mai’jhe Wiley provides some length defensively on the wing. He also uses his length to quickly attack the rim. As a junior he averaged 7.3 points and will be someone the Jr. Jays look to for instant offense this season. His strength and outside shooting seem to have improved since last season and it will likely result in him improving on his 34% 3-point shooting from last season.
Depth isn’t a concern in 2020-21. Seniors Connor Buckley and Alex Bullock will bring some athleticism to the wing. Both players should be able to spell the two, three and four positions the entire season. Senior Tony Tubrick (6-8) will likely see big minutes after playing junior varsity last season. His emergence could provide much needed depth in the front court.