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  1. The return of the Champs

The post Will Dillard & John Newman era kicks off here at the Triad Summer league and this group of returnees will have the challenge to live up to Bengals tradition.

Who’s Back- 2021 Carson McCorkle, 2019 Michael Fowler, 2019 Nick Evtimov, 2019 Austin Inge, 2019 Noah Dunn.

Last season McCorkle played valuable minutes as a frosh so that early experience should only speed up the process. McCorkle is a walking bucket and he fills it up in a variety of ways; the 6’3 guard is dangerous off the dribble McCorkle will put his man on a island, McCorkle has a polished pull up game from the mid range and doesn’t need much space to fire, McCorkle also had a big spring with Gardner Road.

Evtimov looks in store for a breakout senior year and he could be the guy to anchor the paint for the Bengals. Evtimov is a beast on the boards and a strong finisher around the cup, he has definitely sharpened his perimeter game, Evtimov consistently knocks down shots from the elbow and beyond.

2. HPCA will have a completely new look

HPCA will return one starter from last season after graduation the Cougars had a complete roster overhaul. Coach Cooper has added a haul of transfers in a short amount of time and it’s an interesting collection of talent.

New faces- 2021 KJ Garrett, 2020 Jalen King Joiner, 2020 Zach Shumate, and 2020 Drew Greene.

Garrett and lead returnee 2020 Landon Sutton will anchor the backcourt for this group, both these guards can score and create for others. Garrett should make life a lot easier for the rest of these guys, he’s an unselfish lead guard who always looks to push the tempo.

Sutton will have to be a leader for this group to truly come together, in a brief showing we saw Garrett and Sutton on the floor together and it was poetry in motion.

It’s apparent early on these two have games that compliment one another.

Joiner will bring an element of athleticism and versatility this program lacked a year ago. At 6’4 Joiner is long and wiry, offensively Joiner has shot the ball well over the spring, the former one dimensional slasher looks more confident than ever from deep. Joiner is a tough finisher and an extremely effective rebounder for his size. Joiner may be tasked with guarding the oppositions top perimeter threat on a nightly basis.

Shumate could be the ultimate X- factor here due to his size and marksmanship from deep. Shumate will open the floor for these guards to create and operate, recently Shumate has played more aggressive than ever down low. The 6’7 forward has eaten up the glass this spring, Shumate also looks more comfortable scoring on the block.

Drew Greene comes over from conference foe Wesleyan Christian and he should add some needed depth. Greene has good size at 6’3 and the kid is a pure shot maker, Greene will play smart basketball, and he’s been in big games before.

3. Will the new Bengals come to play?

It was recently announced via Twitter 2020’s Cam Hayes & Christian Bailey had officially enrolled at GDS.

These two additions are major and should help ease GDS into a new chapter of hardwood success. Hayes is a 6’3 floor general who should come in from day one and serve as the Bengals next big point guard. Hayes has been tracking nationally over the last several months with Team CP3 16U. His combination of size, scoring ability, and playmaking prowess have coaches and scouts intrigued alike.

Bailey has been one of the most productive players in the state regardless of class, in two seasons he’s already cracked the 1000th point club. Bailey is a 6’5 explosive wing prospect, Bailey can beat his man off the dribble or score over smaller defenders, Bailey is active on the boards as well and has steadily improved the handle.

Both these guys are productive youngsters with even bigger upsides at the next level. The only question is will either play today in the Bengals first live competition since their state title win, and if they do how does everything flow together.

The Skinny- This game will be more about development and getting these new faces accustomed to one another, but make no mistake both programs would like to win especially after a bitter 1-1 regular season split last year.