HERALD 2010-11 PREP BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Can Seay power Lee Co. boys to prominence?

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

LEESBURG -- Tim McPherson almost had to hand out name tags at the first practice.

Nearly half the Lee County Trojans' roster has turned over with newcomers and transfers -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing coming off a three-win season.

"I got here for tryouts and I was trying to learn everybody's name," McPherson said. "I was like, 'Who is this one, who is this one?' It's been different, that's for sure. We've got a lot of different faces."

But it's one familiar face that will likely be the core of the Trojans in 2010-11 as they look to build on the close calls that fell short a season ago. Senior Sanford Seay, coming off an All-State caliber year on the football field as a receiver for the Trojans' football team that reached the playoffs for the first time in five years, will return to his position in the post to beat-and-bang in the middle.

"I didn't really the shoot the ball a lot last year," Seay said. "I helped the team out with rebounds, put backs and making free throws. I let everybody else do what they do."

Seay's play in the paint is in direct contrast with his play on the football field. Outside the hashmarks, Seay ran around defenders and has collected scholarship offers from Marshall and Western Kentucky.

And Seay said even Georgia is waiting on his SAT scores to possibly offer. At 6-foot-1, he runs into defenders in the post, doing the dirty work inside due in large part to his insane vertical leaping ability.

"Seay will be one of our workhorses down low because he can jump with just about anybody," McPherson said. "He takes a lot of punishment in the paint, but he's gotten a lot stronger and more physical coming off the football field."

Senior point guard Chris Tucker might not be 5-6 on his tip-toes, but he's quick as lightning and will take over the prime ball-handling responsibilities. Then there's the transfers that could provide added spark after the Trojans lost their leading scorer, Jacoby Mallory, to graduation.

Tanner Stone, a 6-foot-2 shooter from Randolph Southern, could be the outside threat Lee County needs to pair with Seay's inside presence.

"(Stone) has a nice touch," McPherson said. "We're excited that he can fit in quite well and replace Jacoby with his jump shot."

Mitchell County transfer Tra Bryant's 6-4 frame, the tallest player on the team, should provide needed rebounding, along with Chicago-area transfer Vincent Jupiter, who also stands 6-4.

Junior forward Camron Miller also returns with some playing experience, as well as Seay's partner in crime on the football field, James Terrell, who was dismissed from the basketball team last season but is ready to come back and make amends.

"We're better as far as athletes coming back," Seay said. "The returning players who didn't get a lot of playing time last year are going to be pretty good."

Freshmen Josh Cabrera could also be a surprise by season's end, Seay added.

With seven seniors -- Terrell, Seay, Stone, Tucker, Marteze Tyson, Austin Bullard and Sidney Bailey -- McPherson has more depth on the bench than ever before. He hopes that will help at the end of games, where Lee County ran out of gas time and again last season. Five times the Trojans lost by five points or less last year, three times in region play where they held leads in the fourth quarter.

"That's been the big (message) the last three weeks -- finish," said McPherson, who's in his third year as coach. "We've got to be able to stay in control at the end of the game and keep it close."

The Trojans may not be Region 1-AAAA favorites just yet, but they're steadily building in McPherson's third-time-is-a-charm season and hope to establish a winning tradition similar to what Lee's football team did this year with a playoff berth.

"We want to be competitive," McPherson said. "We don't want people to think 'W' when they see (Lee County) on their schedule."