By Rob Kiser
Edison men’s basketball coach Jon Ralph likes the mix of his team this year.
The Chargers, coming off a 7-19 season, have a strong core of returning players to go with a talented group of freshman.
“We have a core group of four sophomores who are a big part of this team,” Ralph said.
Former Troy standout Cody May, a 6-foot-3 forward is back after a knee injury shortened his season a year ago.
A year ago, May averaged 13.2 points and 6.3 rebonds in 18 games.
“Cody (May) came to us as a highly acclaimed player in football and basketball,” Ralph said. “He was really playing well last year before he injured his knee. He is having a great year so far and coming off a game where he had 27 points, nine rebounds and three assists.”
Another key returner is 6-2 sophomore Malik Thurman (Stebbins) who was an honorable mention All-OCCAC selection a year ago.
Thurman averaged 18.7 points and 7.8 rebounds last season.
“Malik (Thurman) is our only all-conference player returning,” Ralph said. “Last year, he scored almost 20 points a game. He has been playing real well for us.”
Jalen Hearn (Westerville North) is a 5-11 sophomore guard who averaged 12.4 points a year ago.
“Jalen (Hearn) can create a lot of things with his quickness,” Ralph said. “He has picked up his scoring this year.”
A fourth sophomore in the starting lineup is Caleb Poland (Milton-Union), a 5-11 point guard.
Poland averaged 9.1 points a year ago and had 69 assists.
“Last year, against some of the strongest teams in the conference, Caleb (Poland) had to play 37, 38 minutes and still had less than three turnovers a game,” Ralph said. “This year, we have some guys to help him so he is only having to play 20-25 minutes.”
Rounding out the sophomore group is 6-4 Justin Bennett (Westerville North) and 5-11 Gyasi Jackson (Columbus Mifflin).
A.J. Hickman (Miami East) is a 6-4 freshman who has already broken into the starting lineup.
Damion Cook (6-5, Tri-Village) helped the Patriots to a state championship a year ago, but is currently out with an injury.
The rest of the freshman include 6-1 Ja’Quan Dangerfield (Stebbins), 6-0 Marquese Jackson (Wayne), 6-9 Konner Cotterman (Big Walnut), 6-0 Chris Landrum II (Troy Christian), 5-10 Jordan Marshall (Hong Kong International) and 6-8 Dusty Poteet (Troy Christian).
“We have a strong freshman group,” Ralph said. “A.J. Hickman, Damion Cook and Dusty Poteet all have bright futures here.”
For the most part, Ralph has been pleased with what he has seen so far.
“I wasn’t happy with the first game,” he said. “I didn’t think we played as well as we could have. The second game, we scored 64 points in the second half. That was big for us.”
The Chargers had a busy weekend, playing three games.
On Friday, they had the 93-86 win over UC Clermont.
May hay had 27 points and nine rebounds, while Thurman had 26 points and eight rebounds.
Hearn netted 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Landrum had 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
On Saturday, they dropped to 1-2 with a 96-81 loss to Niagara County.
Hearn poured in 30 points, while Landrum came off the bench to score 14 points and pull down six rebounds.
May and Thurman each scored 12 points.
Edison will be back in action Sunday, hosting Miami University-Hamilton.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.