Everywhere he goes, Josh Staley wins. He is very knowledgeable and really focus on teaching the finer points of basketball, however with Staley it goes much deeper than that. He speaks frequently, and very openly about the necessity of being a positive role model in every one of his kid’s lives.

In fact, to end his team’s open gym he gave a very motivational speech about how it is his mission to instill in his kids the necessity to stay off the streets and to graduate school. Staley is a tough coach, but very fair and without question his kids play very hard for him.

Last season, Staley led AC Flora to the South Carolina AAA state championship game, it was his first year at the school. Previously Staley was the girls coach at Orangeburg Wilkinson High School where he competed in 3 state championship games.

Staley can coach, which is a good thing because he has a stable of talent at his disposal this year.

Ready For a Leadership Role
Inconsistency has always been the name of the game for 6’3” Junior James Reese. In the past, he never needed to be the man, as he was always a highly athletic young kid. This year, he is the experienced on on the team and will be forced into a leadership role. Coming off a run to the state title game, the team will look to Reese for guidance and work ethic. Reese is up to task, no longer just a lengthy kid with a 40” vertical. Reese has handle in the half court and great confidence in his pull up jump shot. With an offer on the table from NC A&T, look for other MEAC and Big South school to get involved.

New Kid on the Block
Without question, no matter how hard you try, you cannot teach height and length. Fortunately, for Coach Staley had6’10” junior Deshawn Thomas transfer in this year. The high level rim protector is not only 6’10” but he has huge hands and a 7’5” wing span. Thomas played last year at Richland Northeast HS. Still raw on the offensive end, Thomas is getting better, however his calling card is as a rim protector and rebounder, which is exactly what this team needs. They will have no issue scoring points, as their wings and guards are very talented, but Thomas will rack up on the interior. Here is betting that he finishes multiple games with year with a double-double (in blocks and boards). D1s get in on this one now, his upside is high and he is starting to get there.

Young Gun
While he is the youngest player on the team, he is also perhaps the best basketball prospect in the entire state of South Carolina. 6’6” Freshman Christian Brown (Pictured Right) has special written all over him. He is gifted with easy athleticism put on a long, broad shouldered 6’6” frame. He has the ablity to handle in the half court, the confidence to speak up in the huddle, and most impressively the work ethic to improve each time on the court. Brown works his tail off, and is a national level Top 100 type recruit. The sky is the limit for this one.

The X-Factor
6’3” Junior Kendale Hampton is a combine god, a workout warrior. He runs the 40 yard dash in 4.4, he has a 42” vertical leap, he bench presses 350 and squats 400. The kid is an explosive athlete with all the raw basketball talent you could as for. However, his focus has lacked previously. This year, it is his senior year. It is this year that he is taking the reins and forging a path to a state title. If this team is to win another one, Hampton could very well be the piece that gets them over the hump. Great in transition, Hampton could be the best defender in the state, when he locks in. As Hampton goes, so should the team. Staley has a way of impressing the importance of winning and finishing strong on his kids so don’t be surprised to see a big year from Hampton.

A Look For The Future
Not only does AC Flora have Christian Brown but they also have a few other very young kids that will play a significant role in the future (and current state) of this program. 6’6” Sophomore Diamonte Brown is an explosive athlete and a relentless rebounder. Not only that but he is a hard working kid that is the first to arrive and last to leave. 6’4” Freshman Daniel Finney has a 6’10” wing span and a size 16 shoe. With a mom who is 6’ and a dad 6’5” look for him to continue growing. Not to mention his athleticism, ability to shoot from the perimeter, and put it on the floor. This kid could really take a huge step as he continues to grow. While these kids may not be focal points for the team this year, they will be on the varsity and contribute in their own way.

The future is as bright as the present at AC Flora.

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