Going one step farther and claiming that state title is the goal for the Knights as they begin the 2013-14.
St. Francis hopes to build and improve on a breakthrough season in which it won its first region title since 2005 and advanced to state championship game for the first time in school history with a talented, but young team that featured mostly freshmen and sophomores.
“It was a momentous occasion for the boys’ basketball program,” St. Francis coach Cabral Huff said. “Obviously, we were still young last year – we had one senior who is now playing at Kennesaw State, Jordan Jones. So it was a very momentous occasion – not just for us, but for all of St. Francis. It was a great experience.”
With Jones the lone key departure, St. Francis returns most of its core from its state runner-up team.
“We’re excited to be bringing about 75 percent of our team back,” Huff said. “I say that, because we lost Jordan Jones and we lost one kid who transferred from that team. But other than that, we bring everybody back. We have a good group who likes to be around each other. So we’re excited about the possibilities of this year. To get back to the championship game, getting over that hump and winning a championship – not finishing second this year.”
Returning this year is 6-foot-5 sophomore point guard Kobi Simmons, who has established himself as one of the top college recruits in his class in the nation and spent some time with the USA Developmental team this summer.
Simmons scored 19 of the Knights’ 24 points in the first half of last year’s Class A private school state title game with Greenforest Christian.
Six-foot-8 junior forward Kaiser Gates -- who is being recruited by NCAA Division I schools such as Texas, UCLA and Vanderbilt -- is among the other key players, along with 6-3 junior guard Malik Beasley – who is being recruited by Virginia Tech, Georgia State, Charlotte, Richmond and George Mason – 6-9 junior center Josh Coleman, 6-9 sophomore center James Banks and 6-1 senior guard McKinley Brown.
“When you’ve got a strong five [starting lineup] that has Division I recruitment, it helps,” Huff said. “But the biggest thing is how well they play together. So to me, it doesn’t matter who is getting the offers, who is getting recruited. It’s a matter of how we’re going to play together, how we’re going to win games.”