Like any coach in any sport, John A. Logan head men's basketball coach Kyle Smithpeters is starting the season with a blank canvas.
The former Harrisburg High School standout, as well as, Southern Illinois University star, has a talented paint palette and plenty of brushes in hand for the upcoming season, while a lot of talk surrounds the masterpiece that will be the Volunteers this season.
Smithpeters isn't quick to unveil an unfinished product, but if he's going to be revered as a modern-day Michaelangelo, he's quick to point out his acute attention to detail.
"It's important that our guys understand how important it is to play hard every play," Smithpeters said at Tuesday's John A. Logan Media Day at the Carterville campus.
"It's important for them to do the right thing, like be on time and things like that. It's those life skills that I think translate onto the basketball court. On top of that, I think those expectations lead to really good things happening, in the classroom or on the basketball court.
"On top of that, I think those expectations lead to really good things happening on and off of the court when you hold these guys accountable. That's all a lot of them have ever wanted, is to be held accountable."
Expectations aren't just high for the Volunteers this season — they're through the ceiling.
However, it might pale into comparison to the notoriety that Smithpeters' kids have been receiving during the offseason with college coaches and NBA scouts invading Williamson County to get a sneak peak.
One of those accountable pieces that will be counted on is Alabama State transfer Terrelle Green, a 6-foot-2 point guard from Chicago Simeon that is creating a lot of buzz in Carterville.
Green is a solid decision-maker who combines good size, with a strong frame, and an ability to score the basketball.
According to www.hoops247.com, Smithpeters noted that Green already has offers from Indiana State and Eastern Illinois, while Southern Illinois, Bradley, Wichita State, Marshall, Murray State and Eastern Kentucky all showing interest in the former Chicago Simeon standout.
"Green figures to remain a popular recruiting target running the show for a team that figures to be among the best in the country," the website said.
To counter with Green, Logan has 6-foot-9 center Kaylen Shane that is regarded as the best junior college post prospects in the country.
Shane is a load inside with his physical strength and bulk and he does a tremendous job of carving space out on the interior and backing his way into the paint," hoops247.com's website says. "Shane is great finishing around the hoop with his strength and power. He finishes well through contact and seeks it out. The sophomore also has shown some potential with quick moves on the block including an intriguing jump hook.
Page 2 of 3 - "Shane is a plus rebounder that boxes his man out and snatches the ball out of the air. He is a great post defender as he stones his opponent as they attempt to make their move. The center is an aggressive defender that pushes his man off the block and plays with energy on that end."
Shane, from Chicago's Crane High School, joins other Windy City products DeVaugh Johnson from Bogan High School, along with, Darien Walker, Russell Woods and Sondale Conner from Simeon High School.
Other Vols include Peoria Manual's A.J. Riley, St. Louis Madison Prep's Martavian Payne, and Hazelwood Central's Jordan Martin, along with, Woodford County, Kentucky's Jay Johnson.
Locally, John A. Logan grabbed the Herrin duo of Justin Lukens and Bobbie Mannie, Chester's Reed Koeneman and Murphysboro's Pierre House.
Logan returns five players from a year ago that include Shane, Conner, House, Jay Johnson and DeVaughn Johnson
One thing that Smithpeters has preached from the onset is scheduling. His team gets a good taste when John A. Logan makes their Jamboree debut Sunday at Vincennes ahead of opening the season at their own John A. Logan Invitational November 1-2.
"The first five games of schedule will be very telling of where we stand," Smithpeters said. "If we can walk through there, winning a majority of those, it will be very telling of where we're at. If we end up getting our tails kicked then we have a lot of work to do, but as far as ability and talent, we have very good pieces at every position and they keep things very competitive.
"When you can go 1- or 2-deep at each spot, that makes it very good in game situations, whether it be injury or fouls or things you can't predict or help in a game."
With one year under his belt, Smithpeters said the biggest lesson he learned in year one was you're no long the opinion.
"You gotta make a lot of tough decisions and I'm a lot more prepared for that. I think that's the biggest thing as a head coach that people don't realize until you sit in that seat is there are lot of of decisions you have to make. You're no long the opinion, the buck stops at you and being much more prepared for that, I think it will be an easier ride."
As for the ride with his team, Smithpeters is slow to make any concrete predictions.
"That blank canvas can turn into something and I believe we have a lot of pieces in place to make it something really nice."
Michael Dann can be reached at mdann@dailyregister.
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