By RODNEY YOUNG
For The Patriot
The 2022-23 edition of the Pulaski County Cougars boys basketball team will be young and inexperienced. They have only three returnees from last season’s team.
The Cougars are under the direction Head Coach Tyler Cannoy. This is Cannoy’s fourth season and his three-year record is 30-38.
Perhaps one difference for PCHS this year is the Cougars have a couple of players that can play inside and may not rely solely on outside shooting. More on this later, but we’ll start with this year’s squad.
First, this team will consist of four seniors, four juniors and three sophomores.
The seniors will be returnee Kyle O’Neal, Khalib Horton, Nassir Green and K. J. Robinson.
O’Neal is one of the team’s best athletes. Coach Cannoy remarked, “Kyle is a good shooter, is athletic and a good defender.”
Green is back out for basketball after missing last year.
“He’s a good defender and athletic,” said Cannoy. “We’re glad he has come back to play.”
Robinson is a transfer from Radford. Cannoy said, “KJ is athletic, a good rebounder, a good defender and can do lot of the little things to win games.”
The final senior and returnee is Horton.
“He is the most improved player and provides leadership,” said Coach Cannoy. “He has really dedicated himself this summer and we are looking for leadership from him.”
The junior class has returnee Lane Nester. This is his third year on the varsity. Lane is a scorer.
Connoy remarked, “Lane has provided leadership and has improved in a lot of areas this past summer. He has grown this summer.”
Next is Marcus Reed, who will provide some inside presence for the Cougars.
“He has worked as hard as anyone on this team this summer. He has transformed his game,” said Cannoy.
The other inside presence for the Cougars will be Jele Green. Green came here from Indiana and performed well at times last year on the junior varsity squad.
“He should provide us some inside play and between him and Reed we’ve got some inside game,” said Cannoy.
The fourth junior will be Joel Burchett. He’s a good shooter and surprises people with athletic ability.
“Joel is developing and hopefully his best basketball is ahead of him,” said Cannoy.
The sophomore class has Tootie O’Dell.
“He’s the bigger, more physical of our guards. He can score and can handle the ball. We are expecting a lot of Tootie,” said Cannoy.
Then there’s Jeremiah Turner.
“He’s a vocal leader. He will do lots of the little things in the game that wins games. He’s a glue kind of guy for this team.”
Lastly the other player in the sophomore class is Chandler Hollins. He started last year on the junior varsity team, and most of the time last year he would make things happen.
Coach Cannoy said, “Chandler has a high basketball IQ. He is good defensively, can shoot the rock, and gives up depth.”
Cannoy was asked what he sees offensively from this year’s edition of the varsity.
“We should have as much inside presence as any team I’ve coached here at Pulaski County. I hope we can go up-tempo. I think we can be more flexible than the three previous teams I’ve coached here.”
He then said, “I believe we are well-rounded, more balanced roster wise this season.”
Defensively, Cannoy said, “We will play man-to-man, but you may see us in some zone or zones. We want to mix it up more than we have in the past.”
This year’s team can be called road warriors. They will play only eight home games and 13 games away. They have three games after Christmas playing in a tournament at Fort Chiswell High School. Their first opponent there will be a talented and mostly returning team in the Maroons of George Wythe.
The Cougars will also play at Floyd County High School in the Chance Harmon Classic, and go up against a James River squad that made it to regional play last year.
The Cougars will take on two very talented, athletic teams in Patrick Henry and the State Champion Cave Spring Knights. They also will face State Runners-up in Class 2 the Radford Bobcats. They will travel to Princeton, West Virginia to take on a talented and athletic Tigers squad.
The River Ridge District will be tough and competitive as usual. Coach Cannoy gave a small rundown of each team.
“Cave Spring is the Class 3 State Champs. They return lots of that talent. Patrick Henry is a Class 5 squad that’s athletic, talented, and Coach Esworthy does a real good job there. Blacksburg has good players and Doug Day does a good job. Salem has Coach Garst back coaching and he gets a lot out of his team. Christiansburg is under new head coach Kevin Cox. I think he will get them going in the right direction and there’s some talent there. Then there’s Hidden Valley. They should be much improved this season.”
When asked about the non-district teams, Cannoy said, “Radford played for a state championship. They have most everybody back and Coach Cormany does a tremendous job. I don’t know much about Princeton – as of now – but heard they are athletic and have some good players. James River has a really good shooter in Reed Steger, but lost some good players from last year’s squad. Carroll County has most of their players back from last year. It’s a tough schedule and we’re looking forward to it.”
The Cougar junior varsity head coach is Rajai Hines. This is his third year of coaching them. Some of the players to watch on the junior varsity team will be Bryant Nottingham, Justus Hash, Jalere Harlow, Will O’Neal, Johnny Anderson and Silas Sweet.
The Cougar schedule is rugged. This young and inexperienced team will need to grow up fast and do lot of that on the road. They will also travel to Carroll County and Radford to go with the three games at Fort Chiswell, the game at Princeton (W.Va.), and to Floyd.
Pulaski Co. Boys 2022-23 Basketball Schedule
Mon. Dec. 5 – @ Carroll Co.- 7 pm
Sat. Dec. 10 – Carroll Co. – 3 pm
Tues. Dec. 13 – @ Christiansburg – 7 pm
Fri. Dec. 16 – @ Radford – 7 pm
Sat. Dec. 17 – at Princeton (WV) – 5 pm
Tues. Dec. 20 – @ Patrick Henry – 7 pm
Thurs. Dec. 22 – Radford – 7 pm
Tues. Dec. 27 – Geo. Wythe @ Fort Chiswell HS- 8:30 pm
Wed. Dec. 28 – TBD – @ Fort Chiswell HS – TBD
Thurs. Dec. 29 – TBD – @ Fort Chiswell HS – TBD
Tues. Jan. 3 – Hidden Valley – 7 pm
Jan. 4 – Graham – 7 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 7 – James River @ Chance Harmon Classic @ Floyd HS – 9AM
Tues. Jan. 10 – Cave Spring – 7 pm
Fri. Jan. 13- @ Salem – 7 pm
Tues. Jan. 17 – Christiansburg – 7 pm
Thurs. Jan. 19 – Blacksburg – 7 pm
Tues. Jan. 24- Patrick Henry – 7 pm
Fri. Jan. 27 – @Hidden Valley – 7 pm
Tues. Jan. 31 – @ Blacksburg – 7 pm
Thurs. Feb. 2 – @ Cave Spring – 7 pm
Tues. Feb. 7 – Salem – 7 pm