By Jeff Nations - firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the job Chad Myers knows he must perform for Massanutten Military Academy -- lose nearly an entire roster to college basketball programs across the country, then go out and try to rebuild it even better than before.
Myers, who will enter his second season as MMA's postgraduate boys basketball coach in the fall, has been diligently working to do just that for the Colonels. He's been hitting the major AAU summer tournaments and showcases, tracking current and potential recruits -- just selling the blossoming program Myers hopes will soon stand on equal footing with the likes of Oak Hill Academy.
"I'm on the road for most of July," Myers said during a phone interview. "Sometimes I'm recruiting, sometimes following guys that we have signed, sometimes watching kids play this year that we might recruit a year or two down the road."
Myers, the former director of men's basketball operations at Radford University, guided MMA to a 28-8 record in his first season last year, including a berth in the prestigious National Prep Championship tournament in New Haven, Conn. The Colonels lost in the semifinals, 92-88, to eventual national champion Brewster Academy (N.H.). Much of that MMA team has moved on to college programs, including 6-foot-8, 240-pound big man Terry Brutus (Ole Miss) and forward Zac Grossenbacher (Wofford).
Other recent signees include 6-2 guard Bryan Harris (Wofford), who averaged 18 points and three assists for the Colonels last year; 6-3 guard Cam Neysmith (Charleston Southern), a backup point guard who averaged four points; and Cody Joyce (Houston Baptist), a 6-7 forward who averaged eight points and six rebounds.
The most damaging loss might be the one Myers was hoping he could avoid for one more year -- highly-recruited point guard Corbin Collins, who averaged 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds per game for the Colonels last season, decided to forgo his postgraduate season and signed with LSU.
Of 11 players on last season's roster, 10 have signed to play collegiately next season -- seven to Division I programs. The lone holdover, 6-8 forward D.J. Foreman, has drawn plenty of interest already.
That's the bad news.
Here's some good news for MMA: Myers has already nearly filled his roster for the coming season, and in terms of star power the new group could even surpass last year's accomplishments.
"We're almost there," Myers said. "I think we're going to have 10 to 11 kids sign with Division I programs this year. We might be done, or we could have as many as 13 kids on the roster."
Headlining the incoming group for MMA are two big-time recruits -- 6-9, 230-pound power forward Damonte Dodd and 6-1 point guard Deandre Burnett.
Dodd, who has signed with the University of Maryland, burst onto the national recruiting scene in his senior season. The Centreville, Md., averaged nearly 25 points and 15 rebounds an outing last year for Queen Anne's County High School.
Burnett, who has signed with the University of Miami, poured in 36.2 points per game last year for Carol City (Fla.) High School.
Also slated to join the Colonels this coming season is former Petersburg standout point guard Frank Mason, a Towson University signee. The Colonels also landed 6-5 guard Ahmad Fields, who played last season at Blue Ridge School and is being recruited by several Division I programs, and 6-5 small forward Rashard Kelly. Last season, Kelly played for Bishop O'Connell and will be entering just his junior season for MMA.
The new group will largely face the same daunting schedule MMA completed last year.
"We're not completely done with the schedule yet -- we've got 23 games so far," Myers said. "We'll still play Hargrave [Military Academy] and Brewster. We'll have an exhibition with Oak Hill Academy to start the season."