New Coach, New Lineup: A New Day in Lake Wales
Sun. November 18, 2012 at 4:58 a.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
Having lost all five starters Lake Wales will sport a new look. Among the anchors are, from left, Savonte' Frazier, David Campbell, J'Quayveon Williams and Marcus Dewberry. (Photo by PIERRE DUCHARME | THE LEDGER )
By BILL KEMP | LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
LAKE WALES | If Marcus Dewberry gobbles down an extra plate or two of turkey on Thanksgiving Day, it probably won't make much difference. The Avon Park transfer already has lost six pounds since joining the Lake Wales basketball team.
The senior point guard will try to help the Highlanders defend their Class 5A state title this season. But in the meantime, he's rapidly shedding pounds while adjusting to Lake Wales' trademark, smothering-defensive style of play.
"I was 168 (pounds) before I came here in August, and now I'm at 162 just playing full-court basketball. I'm ready to go to the beach and take my shirt off," Dewberry said. "It is way faster than Avon Park, especially on the defensive end. It took me a while to get used to it. I was gasping for air."
New head coach Randy Lee takes over for Billy Dee Washington, and he promised to keep defense the No. 1 priority while working in a few new wrinkles of his own in other areas this season.
"I have to be who I am," Lee said, who coached at Tennessee Temple University before taking over in June. "And there may be some things that I've been doing (differently) at the college level. However, the bread and butter has been the defense, and we've got to continue to do that. We want to be strong in the basics of basketball, and that's what Lake Wales has been."
Lee, who grew up in Lakeland, said the goal for the Highlanders is to get back to the state championship game this season. But the mission will have to be accomplished without any returning starters from the 2011-12 championship team.
Though Lake Wales gained the reputation across the state as the team to beat, it lost PolkPreps.com player of the year Russel Wilson, Marcel White, Alante Fenner, Antoine Hadley and Lamar Welch — all key players in the title run.
"Obviously, the target is on our backs. We just have to make sure we continuously improve to become better basketball players," Lee said. "It's going to have to be different. We don't have the height that we had with Hadley, but we do have the heart. We just have to make sure we play tough defensively."
Working without height, Lee plans on spreading a five-guard set across the hardwoods.
Joining Dewberry are juniors David Campbell and Savonte' Frazier with seniors Shaq Snell and Doug Brooks. The Highlanders' lone post presence will come from 6-foot-6 senior J'Quayveon Williams.
Lee said Dewberry has unlimited range as a shooter. He described Campbell as a cerebral player who can stretch defenses; Brooks as a team leader who has relentless energy for a shooting guard; and Snell as one of the best ball-on-ball defenders in Central Florida.
"Over the course of June, I was just impressed with their ability to adapt," Lee said. "I compare myself to a stepfather, and I came into a great situation. I don't want to change the family. It's a great situation, but I have to make sure I direct, lead and guide."
Williams, who played some key minutes for the Highlanders off the bench last season, said the team has the right pieces for a possible return trip to The Lakeland Center to play for the state title in February.
"Over the summer, we've been putting a lot of work in. I see our team going back and becoming two-time state champions," Williams said.