The Berkeley High School boys basketball team is coming off two region championships at the Class 4A level and is still considered a player for big trophies at the Class 5A level.
The Stags, with three starters returning from a squad that finished 20-3 and advanced to the state quarterfinals last season, are ranked No. 6 by the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association in the state’s largest classification.
“That’s definitely an honor for our program to be recognized,” eighth-year coach Joe Wallace said, “but as I’ve told the guys the preseason rank doesn’t mean a whole lot. We’re more concerned about where we are in February. We’re taking it in stride. I’ve told my guys not to get focused on that, but we know people are gunning for us.”
The Stags open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 30 at Stall High School. They host Ashley Ridge on Dec. 3 and Timberland on Dec. 7.
Among the group returning is senior forward Ishan White, named one of Class 5A’s top senior boys. Last season, White (6-6) averaged 11.2 points and 9.8 rebounds. He can play with his back to the basket and also knock down jumpers from the mid-range.
“He plays above the rim on off and defense,” Wallace said. “He’ll sky to get putbacks and rebounds. He protects the rim. He gets a lot of blocks and steals and can run the floor as well.”
Senior guard Trevur Smalls, tall for a backcourt player, is the top scorer returning and puts numbers in other columns. Last season, he averaged 12.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
“He’s a guy who can do it all,” Wallace said. “He’s worked hard on his jump shot. He can knock down the 3-pointer and he’s a slasher. He’s a bigger guard so it can be a mismatch depending on who we’re playing.”
Senior guard DJ Chisolm, committed to East Carolina in football, is a table setter at the point guard spot. Quickness might be his best asset. Chisolm averaged 8.1 points, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals last year.
“We’re counting on him to handle the ball,” Wallace said. “He’s very quick and can jump. Once he gets to the lane, he can shoot over the center. On defense, he’s active with his hands and moves his feet well, shutting down other team’s point guards.”
The new starters are junior forward Marcel Jackson and senior guard Cameron Fordham. Jackson, who was on JV last year, is an athletic player around the basket. Wallace said he can see similarities between Fordham and last year’s standout, Ephraim Butler. Butler scored 20.7 points per game and contributed 3.4 assists and 2.5 steals.
“He looks like he handles it and sees the floor well,” Wallace said of Fordham. “As far as being a point guard, he’s more of a scoring point guard. He can shoot a jump shot and get to the basket. I like his competitiveness.”
Senior DeAndre Bryan is the first post player off the bench after lettering last season. He averaged 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds. Wallace is looking for Bryan to contribute more this winter.
Junior Hakeem Meggett and senior Christian Morris are the first backcourt players off the bench. Meggett is up from JV and Morris earned a varsity letter in 2017-18.
Additional lettermen coming back are senior guard Keshawn Wicks (2.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG), senior guard Irvonte Yeadon, senior guard Blake Southard (2.5 PPG) and senior forward Jayan Copeland. Sophomore Solomon Butler is up from the JV squad.