North Clayton basketball adjusting well to life without key players

The North Clayton Eagles won the Hampton Summer Jam championship earlier this summer. (Special Photo)

COLLEGE PARK — The North Clayton Eagles appear to acclimating themselves quite well to life without several key seniors from last year’s squad. So far this summer, North Clayton has claimed the Hampton Summer Jam championship, and is playing at a high level.

Head coach Martisse Troup, who is entering his 15th season at North Clayton, has developed a system he utilizes each summer. His philosophy has changed as he’s matured as a coach.

“When I first started we used to play more games,” Troup said. “But now in the summer we’re playing 20 games instead of in the past when it was maybe 30 or 40. To me, that’s entirely too many games. I’ve cut it down to more skill development, less games.”

The Eagles will be without All-County selection Ahsan Asadullah, as well as Alex Quaynor, Jamal Buster and Yaya Diaby for the upcoming season. Troup said all of his seniors from last year’s squad have moved on to college, either athletically or academically.

“All of them graduated and got accepted into college,” he said. “Now I’m focused on my 2017-18 team. It’s going to be a host of sophomores and seniors. I’m excited.”

Among those returning are All-County selection Michael Lee, senior Keondre Kennedy, and three sophomores — Xavier Valley, Jermaine Lattimore and Jaimonnie Watkins-Causey, all of which played significant minutes last season.

“This team is like North Clayton used to be. We’re going to be kind of young this year, but the good thing is we’re going to be able to press a little more,” Troup said. “With Ahsan graduating, it will speed us up more to play how we play, pressing and getting up and down.

In situations where we have to run offensive sets, we’ll be good doing that too,” he continued. “The offense is looking different this year coming up. We’re doing a lot of 4-out, 1-in and 5-out. The defense will be switched up a lot. It will be a lot more up-tempo this year.”

Off the court, Troup has implemented programs with the local FCA, which he believes is helping his team come even closer.

“With FCA, them coming out on Wednesday’s and kind of ministering to the kids, that also grows us closer together spiritually, mentally and physically,” he said. “It’s been a good summer so far.”

The Eagles, as has become customary under Troup, have loaded up on non-region opponents including Jonesboro, Drew, Forest Park, Westlake and Monroe. They will also compete in a Thanksgiving tournament at Dutchtown before opening up region play against Henry County.

With such a daunting non-region schedule, Troup is taking the summer and the upcoming fall league seriously. North Clayton has perennially been competitive during his tenure, and even as he enters another season in his long career, he remains enthusiastic about his program.

“This will be year 15 for me at North Clayton and I think year 12 as head coach. I’m pretty excited,” he said.

Luke Strickland is the sports editor of the Clayton News in Jonesboro and the Henry Herald in McDonough. He went to school at the University of Georgia.

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