A tradition of playing hard, competing well and being successful in boys basketball is all but certain to continue at North Farmington in the upcoming season.
The Raiders return four starters, including one of the best players in the state, from a team that was 13-7 overall and a contender in the rugged OAA Red Division.
“We’re excited to get going just because it’s such a great group of kids who come together every day to compete,” coach Todd Negoshian said. “They play hard and they get along. It’s a very unique group from that aspect.”
Six-foot-7 senior Jeron Rogers will be a four-year starter and is a perennial all-Observer player who recently signed with Cleveland State University.
Rogers, who can play on the perimeter as well as in the paint, averaged 21 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
“He’s one of the best all-around players in the state,” Negoshian said. “He can score with his back to the basket, and he has become a very skilled perimeter player over the last three years. He has a skill set that not many do any more.”
Rogers will have a good season whether he has great statistics or not, Negoshian added.
“His experience and his leadership is going to be huge for us,” he said. “He’s never been one to force a lot of things. He has no problem getting his teammates involved.
“Whatever he can do that night to help us win is what he cares about. I don’t think that’s going to change for him at all. He’s one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever had.”
The other starters
Jacob Joubert has started at guard for two years. He moved to the point last season, following the graduation of Caleb Hogans, and averaged eight points, three assists, three rebounds and two steals.
The 6-2 junior has gotten bigger, stronger and better in all aspects of the game and should have a great year, according to Negoshian, who would like to develop another point guard and move Joubert back to the two, a more natural position for him.
The Raiders are well situated at the forwards with 6-4 senior Anthony Qasawa and 6-5 junior Alex Darden as the other returning starters.
Qasawa, who also can shoot the three, is as much a wing player and big guard. He averaged a dozen points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. He worked countless hours in the summer and added more to his game.
North will look for added rebounding from Darden, who provided five points and four boards per game. He added size and strength since last season, according to Negoshian. Darden also averaged two assists and two steals.
“Our big four bring a lot to the table from the standpoint of experience and leadership and being through the grind of our league season,” Negoshian said. “They understand what it’s all about.
“I think all four of those guys are going to have great years as hard as they’ve worked. Now it’s a matter of getting some other guys up to speed and par to match that.”
Searching for No. 5
The fifth starter has been somebody new every day at practice, he added. It’s been a revolving door with players doing better some days than others.
“A lot of the same things are true for us every year,” Negoshian said. “We’re going to play hard and compete. It’s nice to have kids back. That’s always a plus.
“For us it’s finding the fifth starter and finding some depth. That’s where we’re really struggling right now. With the schedule we’ve put together, we need to be able to find it right away.”
Three other seniors return to the varsity – 6-4 post Evan McMurray, 6-2 guard Mark Ancona and 6-1 guard/forward Kyle Penny, the quarterback of the football team.
Six-foot juniors Mher and Sasoun Tcholakian moved from the JV to the varsity for the last eight games, and 6-3 junior post De’on Jenkins did the same for the final four.
Three other junior guards have made the transition from JV to varsity for this season. They include 5-11 Darryl Dunlap, 6-0 Jimmy Doig and 5-8 Josh Hogans. Freshman guard Jacob Brantley completes the varsity team.
First game nears
North, which was 8-6 and fourth in the OAA Red, expects to battle with Clarkston, Southfield, Lathrup, Rochester Adams and Bloomfield Hills for the 2015 title.
The Raiders start the season Tuesday night when they play host to Detroit Collegiate Prep at Northwestern.
“I still believe our division, top to bottom, is the toughest in the state,” Negoshian said. “It’s a grind every night. You’re going to have to get some breaks, be a little lucky and win at home.
“The big thing for us is to make sure we’re playing hard and competing every night. With our veteran leadership, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for us.
“We have a great early schedule that will test us and show us where we stand. We have quality players coming off the bench that could give us depth by the time the league starts in January, but they’re unproven at the varsity level.”