LOGAN - The three-week June practice period is often used as a proving ground.
Who is ready to play?
Who is ready to step up?
That's what the Logan High School basketball team did last month as the Wildcats went 15-5 in a 20-game schedule.
Logan has some veteran talent returning, players such as David Early, Mitchell Hainer, Noah Cook, Peyton Adams, Tanner Lambert and Sidney Chapman, but the Wildcats also used the practice period to take a good look at their freshmen and sophomores.
Early, Cook, Lambert and Chapman are all seniors and will be looking to lead the Cats next season.
Last year's promising freshmen class included: Trey Brown; Jarron Glick; Aden Martin; Cameron Hensley; Carson Kirk; Jackson Akers; Chance Maynard; Chase Maynard; Darius Hall; and Landon Adkins.
"We finished 15-5 in the summer," Logan coach Zach Green said. "We went to Georgetown and started really slow. We were 4-4 to start the tournament. Then we won six straight games to win the tournament. I think the slow start was attributed to all the young guys that we are playing. This is a new look roster for us. We have a lot of young players. We played five kids who are freshmen or sophomores with our older guys David, Mitchell, Noah and Peyton. I think once they got adjusted to the speed of the game and got used to play with our older guys we were good. It was really nice to see our young guys step up and play the way that they did."
Logan is coming off a 20-5 season from a year ago and lost three starters from that team.
Peter Noe, a 6-foot-10 center, and 6-1 forward Chucky Felder both graduated.
Brothers Drew Hatfield (5-11 senior) and Devin Hatfield (6-0 sophomore) who had transferred to Logan after the football season from Mingo Central, have went back home to MCHS.
Both played big roles in the Wildcats' success last season. Drew Hatfield (14.5 points, 10.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 3.6 steals) was a starter and one of the team's top scorers. Devin Hatfield, a key reserve, saw his role continuing to grow as the season progressed.
"If you are looking at our immediate future it hurts a little bit," Green said of losing the brothers to Mingo. "But in the long run it gives our freshmen and sophomores that we have that are really good a chance to grow and get better. This summer, we've seen so much growth out of those young guys. They've had to get in there and mix it up with the varsity guys and force them to play a little bit harder than they expected to. I think in the long run it's going to be really good for our kids. We will miss having Drew's leadership and what what he did for us last year was really good. But we can't stare into the rear view mirror. We have to keep looking forward."
EARLY KEEPING BUSY: Early has one more season left with the Wildcats.
The Division I prospect scored more than 30 points in eight games last season and averaged 26.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Early, a 6-4 guard, was a Class AA First-Team All-State pick last year and was also First-Team All-Cardinal Conference. He led the league in scoring last season.
Early will likely surpass Paul Williamson as the school's all-time leading scorer this upcoming season.
He's staying busy this summer playing for an AAU team out of Virginia.
"David is playing for Team Loaded in Virginia," Green said. "They play on the Adidas circuit. That's the same circuit that he played on last summer only with a different team. He's doing really well. They are getting ready to start back up. They have a dead period in June. Then they start back up in July. July 10th I think is his next tournament."
Green said Early recently picked up another Division I offer - this one from Radford University.
"He picked up another offer from Radford and is expecting some more during this period in July," Green said.
THE BELL DOES NOT TOLL: Longstanding rumors have said that Scott High School basketball standout Jagger Bell would be transferring to Logan for the upcoming season.
That's not the case, according to Coach Green.
"Not to my knowledge. He has not enrolled at Logan," Green said. "I'm getting a lot of questions about that too."
Paul Adkins is the sports editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.