Photo by Derrick Mahone
Drew senior guard Rufus Brown was a key figure in helping the third-year school reach its first state championship game appearance.
Drew coach Jarrod Davis was not sure what kind of reaction he would get from the program’s younger players after they saw the varsity play in the Class AAA title game.
From the upcoming players’ response, Davis is encouraged about the future direction of the program.
“All the players from the JV kept asking me on Monday, ‘When do we start getting ready for next season?’ ” Davis said. “The legacy that this group of seniors has left behind is starting to come to fruition. The bar has definitely been set high.”
Drew has gone from a first-year school three years ago into the Class AAA state runner-up in only its second season on the varsity level.
Davis said this season’s JV won the Clayton County championship. The Titans will be counting on several of those players to replace 11 seniors on this season’s roster. Freshman Devonte Cacock got a lot of playing time during the state tournament.
In the championship game, he had a team-leading 13 points.
Davis doesn’t want to call next season a rebuilding year for the program, which won its first region championship this season.
“We are going to approach it the same way we did three years ago, when we started this program,” Davis said. “I think the kids want to be on that big stage. I think the bar has been set high, regardless of who is going to be here.”
Drew’s presence in Saturday’s championship was significant for the county. The Titans were the first boys’ basketball team from Clayton County to make the finals since Jonesboro lost the Class AAAAA championship to Wheeler in 2003.
It has been 19 years since a boys team from the county has won a basketball title. North Clayton won the Class AA title in 1993.
While many outside the program view Drew’s quick rise to a state-wide competitive level as a surprise, Davis said it was part of his plan to make the team a contender.
“I don’t fall under the rule that you can’t compete,” Davis said. “Basketball is basketball. We had a collection of kids that came together to accomplish something special.”
The season: The Titans finished the season with a 28-5 record and captured their first region championship in school history. Drew lost 65-46 to powerhouse Columbia in the Class AAA final.
Who Drew loses: They were a senior-oriented group with 11 players graduating this spring. Key losses will be Rufus Brown, Derrick Frye, Eloka Olisa, and the inside bulk of Antonio Garcia.
Who’s back: Coach Jarrod Davis is high on freshman Devonte Cacock, who got significant playing time this season. The 6-foot-4 Cacock got a lot of playing time during the Titans’ final-four games against Washington and Columbia.
Looking ahead: The school’s JV squad won the county tournament, which has Davis encouraged about the future. Drew will certainly be in a rebuilding mode next season, but Davis is confident the younger players will develop quickly.
By the number: 44-15. Drew’s record the past two seasons on the varsity level.
Coach Jarrod Davis says: “We are trying to not to let the Columbia game define our season. It is games like this that will make you a better coach.”