By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
9-14 career record
• Coaching Staff: Rod Moxley, Jr., Rich Graves, DJ Hickle, Will Yount.
• 2022-23 Record: 9-14 overall; 6-8 Suburban League.
• Returning Lettermen (9): Tyrel Ellington, sr.; Jeremiah Lepp, sr.; Grant Leslie,
sr.; Gavin Hockin, sr.; Ryan Slocum, jr; Jaden Dennison, jr.; Michael Shannon, jr.; Carter Foreman, jr.; Gavin Peeps, soph.
• Lettermen Lost (5): Gavin Leslie, Cayden Foreman, Charlie Martin, Cam Dent, Nicholas Shannon.
Last season, Black’s first leading the program, was a confidence-building season for the players.
“This year, they will be tasked with fine tuning their games for the betterment of one another,” Black said. “We need to reach out full potential individually and as a team.”
Getting out in transition is still a key for the Rough Riders, but Black said he has challenged his team to become much more effective with their halfcourt offense.
Ellington returns for his third season on varsity and is a team leader. He was a First Team All-Suburban League player last season, when he averaged 11.8 points per game.
“He has the ability to get hot from outside and to get to the rim with a quick first step.”
He will be a key to the Riders’ season both offensively and defensively.
Lepp is a pace player and deep-shooting threat, hitting on 40 percent of his 3-point attempts last year. He averaged 8.9 points last year and was Second Team all-league.
Leslie turned in a tremendous off-season because of his tireless work ethic. Black believes Leslie can score on multiple levels, defend, rebound and be a playmaker in passing.
Dennison was forced into action as a ball-handler last year as a sophomore, which accelerated his growth process.
Hockin stretches the floor on offense with his shooting ability and also gives the team another defensive-minded guard.
Shannon brings toughness and hustle, but can also shoot the 3.
Jack Smith is a newcomer and will be another ball-handler, tough defender and someone that can knock down open shots.
“He’s still finding his game again after being off for about a year, but he will be a huge boost to our group of guards.”
Codey Fortson has “gown a ton as a basketball player,” according to Black. Fortson is athletic and quick and has the ability to attack the paint.
Slocum was an Honorable Mention performer last season in the Suburban League. He averaged 5.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
“He brings a post presence that can be dominant at times. He also has a nice shooting touch, as well as the ability to alter shots consistently on defense.”
Foreman returns to the roster after a knee injury sidelined him in 2022-23.
“He has had a great summer getting back into the swing of things. He brings us a high basketball IQ and more size in the post.”
Peeps has length and the ability to play inside and outside.
“He is still developing a consistent jump shot, but he can take bigger defenders off the dribble and take smaller defenders into the post.”
Anthony Helton has a unique skill-set that includes passion, strength and athleticism.
Patrick Barkley, jr.; Brian Dugan II, jr.; John Estep, soph.; EJ Churn, soph.; Carter Foreman, fresh.; Tyler Ellington, fresh.; Sevyn Jones, fresh.
“My main concern is always the health of our guys. The next concern would be not maximizing opportunities. I believe with our returning experience, that we have an opportunity to be a better team than we were last season and our guys believe that as well.”
“I would throw us in the conversation for a league title, along with Cuyahoga Falls, Copley, Highland and Revere.”