With a roster littered with Division-I prospects and fresh off three straight trips to the state playoffs, that optimism is well warranted. The Knights return All-Neighbor Rookie of the Year Kaiser Gates, have added two talented transfers to the front court, and have their eyes set on competing for a region title this winter.
“I think we will be a fun group to watch play this year,” said fifth-year coach Cabral Huff, who led St. Francis to a 17-13 record last season and an appearance in the Sweet 16 of the Class A state playoffs. “This group is young but experienced, we have three seniors, three juniors and eight underclassmen that gained valuable experience from last year’s success.”
Gates, a 6-foot-7 sophomore swingman that averaged 8.9 points and seven rebounds as a freshman, is the Knights top returner. Add in 6-foot-8 forward Jordan Jones, a Kennesaw State signee that transferred in from Furtah Prep, and 6-foot-9 big man Josh Coleman — a sophomore transfer from Milton — and St. Francis will have the size and strength to compete with anyone in the state.
“Their length, size and athleticism will provide other teams some problems,” said Huff, “and around them we return two seniors, Logan Schumacher and Justin Morgan, that we think can provide us even more versatility and leadership.”
Freshman guard Kobi Simmons, who has a scholarship offer from Auburn, sophomores Malik Beasley, Keshawn Gibbs and junior McKinley Brown are also names to watch according to Huff.
Along with new faces on the court, Huff’s team will see some different opponents this year after being realigned into a challenging sub-region 6B-A. For the next two years the Knights will tangle with defending state champion Whitefield Academy, traditional state power North Cobb Christian, reigning region Mount Pisgah and others.
“Our region is definitely a measuring stick for us with five teams on our side that made the state tournament,” said Huff, referring to the previous three teams, his Knights and Mount Paran. “Our goal this season is basically ‘One Family, One Vision, One Dream-We are one’ as we want to win our side of the region during the regular season, win the region tournament and get past the Sweet 16. And with those accomplishments, the win totals will come.”
The Knights kicked off their season last weekend against Holy Innocents’ and Georgia Military — results were not available at press time.
St. Francis will get their first chance to test their mettle against a larger school this weekend when they face Class AAAAAA Archer in the On the Radar Hoops Invitational.