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Augusta Christian ready for basketball season

Posted: November 15, 2017 - 2:28am

Even after losing their floor general to graduation, Augusta Christian is looking to improve its win-loss percentage with one of the best players in school history.

The Lions lost starting point guard Alan Dodge after an 8-19 season and a first-round exit in the state playoffs to Laurence Manning Academy, but a slight adjustment in the starting lineup may end up paying dividends as coach Charles Welch said he plans to insert SCISA All-State player Nate Dunlop as starting point guard at the start of the season.

In the 2016-2017 season, the Lions' 6-foot-6, 210-pound Most Outstanding Player mastered the small forward position, averaging 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He became a 1,000-point scorer in just his sophomore season.

While Dunlop is already being scouted by several mid-major and Division II colleges, including Augusta University, the College of Charleston, Belmont, UNC Asheville and Appalachian State, Welch said it is integral to place Dunlop as a point guard because doing so will potentially have major colleges interested in Dunlop, too.

"Our hope is he will develop this year and next year, and by the time he is finishing up as a senior, he will be more of a major college basketball player, especially if he can develop at the point guard spot," Welch said.

Welch said Dunlop's ball-handling has to improve, though his dribbling ability is already exceptional. Other attributes Dunlop needs to improve upon are his explosiveness, as well as leadership at the point guard position.

Locking players into particular positions is something Welch won't do. With Dunlop as a prime example of a player being moved to another position for his benefit, Welch said his philosophy for the team is to enhance every player's game in an effort bolster the team.

"That's what we are committed to with all of our players," said Welch, entering his second season with the Lions. Augusta Christian opened Tuesday night against Alleluia before preparing to play Lakeside and Greenbrier on Friday and Saturday.

"We don't want to lock them into a position because they are big, or because of this or that. We don't want to lock them in to any position that stereotypes them. We really try to move our guys around and develop them into the best basketball players they can be."

As players continue their individual skill development through practice leading up to the first game of the season, Welch will ensure players are practicing their offensive and defensive sets.

Welch said his team will push the basketball when there are opportunities, and of course, his offense will spread the ball around in an equal opportunity offense. For defense, the team is gearing up for man, matchup zone, half and full-court traps.

Although Welch assuredly wants his team to use these strategies to ultimately win against the very best, he said he doesn't want his team to compromise integrity. Welch said the team's philosophy is "good men playing great basketball together."

"The first thing we want to do is make sure that we are doing everything we can to help these guys develop as good men," Welch said. "We want guys that can count on each other-guys that look to do the right thing. Guys that look to play hard and never quit. Our purpose supersedes our goal, which is to really develop good men."

Still, Welch said his team's goals are having a winning record heading into the state tournament and to advance to the Final Four.

 

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