Mt. Pleasant Tigers were 33-4 last season and lost by three points in the regional semi-finals to Dallas Kimball. In 2018 Mt. Pleasant went down to Lancaster in the regional semis as well. Coach Joey Chism enters his 15th year with the Tigers and the hometown product is in his 7th season as the head man. Chism played at Jacksonville JC and Western Illinois. Chism is missing only one starter off last year’s team, Jamarion Brown. “He’s going to be hard to replace, he was the defensive player of the year in the district last year,” Chism said. But Coach Chism returns nine of his twelve lettermen and feels good about the coming season. “We press 32 minutes, we have too, were so small,” Chism explained. “Defensively we will run and jump, hoping to get some easy baskets,” Chism said. Coach Chism calls his nephew, Zaveion Chism-Okoh (2021) his best player this year. “He’s grown 2 ½ inches and has really improved,” Chism said. Look for Payton Chism (2023) to continue his outstanding play along with 6’3” Brock Cooper (2021), Kebo Hines (2021), and Elijiah Tag (2021). Payton is Coach Chism’s son and played with Drive Nation this past summer. Coach Chism will look for three inside players coming out of football. 6’5” Miller McCrumby, 6’4” Xavier Brown, and 6’3” William Hills. All three are receivers and McCrumby is receiving division looks in football.
The Kimball Knights out of Dallas coached by Nick Smith have another outstanding team this season. The Knights will be young with four juniors in the line-up, but don’t underestimate this group, they are talented. Kimball returns three starters from a 30-7 regional final team that lost to Lancaster. Leading the charge is one of the top juniors in the state in 6’4” Arterio Morris (2022). Morris is extremely quick with the ability to handle the ball in traffic. He has big-time vision and is very unselfish. Morris has already committed to Memphis. If the Knights are to go anywhere this season Morris will be a big part of that success. “He’s a special talent, I’ve coached All-Americans and he’s one of the best I’ve had. He has big-time potential,” Coach Smith said. As you watch Morris you can’t help but notice how smooth he is with the ball from his dribble penetration to his three-point shooting. 5’11” Jayden Blair (2021) is the only senior starter returning this year. Blair is quick with tremendous vision and anticipation. “I like his game and his pass-first mentality,” Coach Smith commented. 6’8” Aydan Blair (2022) has moved in from Odessa and his impact will be felt immediately. “He’s going to be good, he has a soft touch inside,” Smith said. “He’s got to get stronger.”
Chauncey Gibson is a 6’5” shooting guard with unlimited range. Chauncey has a quick release and comes to Kimball by way of Duncanville. He has U.T. Arlington and Wichita State looking at him. “He can light it up,” Smith said. The fifth starter is still playing wide receiver on the football field at the present time. 6’6” Kyron Henderson (2022) is a strong physical athlete who has several division-one offers in football. Henderson also has created interest at the next level in basketball. “Kyron will really help us because he plays so hard,” Smith said.
Coach Smith is in his 7th year at the helm after coaching at Pinkston for seven years. Prior to that, he was assistant for the Knights for two seasons. When asked about the coming year Smith responded, “we will be fun to watch, but we will have to do more teaching than in the past due to our youth and inexperience.”
The Amarillo Sandies captured the state championship 34 years ago under coach Allen Simpson. The Sandies lost in the state finals to Dallas Kimball in 2014. The 2020-21 version of the Sandies may be the best yet. Allen Simpson’s grandson, Slade Simpson, is playing for Coach Jason Pillion on this year’s team. “If we can develop some depth and take care of the basketball, we are going to have a nice season,” Coach Pillion explained. Last year Amarillo’s season ended prematurely with a 2nd round loss to Wichita Falls Rider. Coach Pillion’s hopes this year will center around three juniors, 6’4” Brendan Hausen (2022), 6’6” Damonze Woods (2022) and 6’11” Cade Hornecker (2022). TexasHoops.Rivals/GASO Administrator, Sam Lowe, called Hausen, “tough and heady with the body to physically compete at the next level.” Hausen’s ability to stroke it from long range will prove valuable over the course of the season. Coach Pillion calls Hauser one of the best shooters in the country. “He sometimes plays the point for us and has a high basketball IQ, he’s tough as nails and a great leader.” Wichita State, Texas Tech, TCU, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss have all offered Hauser.
In discussing the 6’11” Hornecker, Coach Pillion is very excited. “He’s only 16 years old, he’s going to do nothing but get better, stronger, and more physical. He already can shoot the three.” Wichita State, Creighton, and TCU are all in hot pursuit.
Woods is a physical specimen who has received interest from Oral Roberts, Creighton, Oklahoma, and TCU. All three were varsity players as freshmen, and Pillion feels shooting will definitely be a team strength during the coming season. Chris Dees shot 47% from behind the arc a year ago, while Owen Boyett popped 42% and Hauser was good for 49% from three-point land.
“This is the best team we’ve had; it should be a fun season,” Coach Pillion explained. “We’ll find out what we’re made of when we travel to the Dallas area to meet Waxahachie on December 19th and Lancaster on December 30th,” Pillion said. Coach Pillion is entering his 18th at Amarillo and 15th as the head coach.