Just days before Thanksgiving, Ardmore’s boys basketball team had a lot to be thankful for.

Just days before Thanksgiving, Ardmore’s boys basketball team had a lot to be thankful for.

In their second practice of the day, the gym had a few visitors. Maintenance men installed new scoreboards and a green-and-yellow clad Baylor assistant sat courtside while the Tigers went through inbound drills.

It’s a new, potential-filled season for the Tigers, and a lot of people are going to take notice. Ardmore returns three starters that will form arguably the best backcourt in the state, including national recruit Nino Jackson. The assistant was there to see Jackson, the reigning All-Ardmoreite player of the year, and the junior expects more attention this season.

Not just for himself, but the Tigers, who qualified for their third consecutive state tournament last season and have several key players back from last year’s 17-11 campaign.

“We’ve come together good,” said Jackson, who’s considering Big 12 schools Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor. “Since the football players are coming in, we’ve got on the right track.”

In his first season with Ardmore after transferring from Northwest Classen, Jackson (6-foot-2) averaged 17.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game as a sophomore. His transition was aided by backcourt mate Trey Cohee (6-1), who enters his senior season as a two-time All-Ardmoreite Super Team selection. Cohee averaged 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in 2009.

And when Cohee or fellow senior Tylan Herbert (6.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg) weren’t available, Travis Galbreath (6-0, junior) was a capable starter, averaging 5.2 points and acting as a facilitator at point guard.

Ardmore’s guards are as deep and experienced as they are talented.

“We have to have one of the best if not the best,” Ardmore coach Mark Wilson said of his group of guards. “They all played a ton last year. They’ve all played state tournament games. Not many people have that.”

Not many people have a blue-chip recruit like Jackson either, who Wilson says has grown accustom to the fervor surrounding his recruitment. Jackson said he’ll probably hold off until the end of the season before making a college choice.

“He was around the AAU team with (Memphis Grizzlies guard) Xavier Henry, so he’s used to the attention,” Wilson said. “He’s seen the big-time AAU push before.”

The Tigers will have big holes to fill in the frontcourt and in terms of leadership. Gone are 2009 senior leaders Cody Nall and Reuben Tiller, who were starters at center and guard, respectively.

“It starts with guys being consistent in their effort,” Wilson said. “Everyday, they have an obligation of being as good as they can be.

“Those two will be missed because of those things more than rebounds or shots. We have some good seniors this year that will be fine in those roles.”

Cohee returns as the veteran backcourt presence while 6-2 junior Tre’yon Grant (3.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and 6’3 senior Damontre Wright (4.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg) will be leaders in the forward spots. Senior Darail Taulton (6-2) and junior Daylon Wilkins (6-7) will also provide depth and battle to start in the frontcourt and the Tigers add another versatile forward in Springer transfer Reggie Vlorie (6-3).

Wilson said the Tigers need to win their home games to be as good as they want to be. He’s probably right. The breakout of Jackson and the offensive talent in the backcourt makes the Tigers one of a handful of teams favored to win the 5A state championship.

The Tigers tip off the season with consecutive home games against McAlester on Nov. 30 and Bishop McGuinness on Dec. 3. Ardmore will scrimmage at McAlester today against Tahlequah, Okemah and Tahlequah Sequoyah.

“I think everyone is going to play us hard when they get a chance to,” Cohee said. “But we’re used to it by now.

“When one person’s not hitting we have others that can pick it up.”

Erik K. Horne


Ardmore boys

  Head coach: Mark Wilson (ninth year, 145-71 at school)
  2009-10: 17-11, no conference, area consolation winners, state quarterfinal
  First game: Tuesday vs. McAlester
  Returning starters: 3