Key Players

SG/SF Dylan Sullivan - Not often you have a 6-7 athlete playing the shooting guard position. That's exactly what Sullivan is. Has great speed and agility to excel in the backcourt. True candidate to play at the next level.

SF/PF Taylor Hamada - Returning All League player. Multi sport athlete receiving looks in basketball and baseball. Will score primarily in the low post. Stout defender with plenty of upside.

PG Javon Handcox - Tremendous athlete that knows the offense well. Will be counted on to execute plays and rack up assists. Potential All League candidate.

Overview

Walla Walla has been a school of basketball excellence for several decades now.

You wouldn't consider a town known for their wineries to also have high basketball prowess; but this is the case.

Their record has been well over .500 for six straight seasons now. The problem is they play in the same conference as powerhouse Richland, and so far haven't been able to crack them.

One or the longest tenured coaches in the Mid-Columbia Conference, John Golden, has stepped down after 13 seasons at Walla Walla.

Taking his place will be Walla Walla teacher Mike Patterson. He was an assistant to Golden for four seasons, and has coached for 16 years/

He's going to have just three returning players to work with. Making this roster one of the least seasoned in the conference.

The three returners are good one's however. Sullivan, Hamada, and Handcox all bring stability to the starting unit. This should give them a high ceiling heading into the season.

Filling out the first team unit is going to be junior guards Dylan Ashbeck, and Mason Eaker-Rude.

Eaker-Rude can certainly bounce around the gym. He actually finished third in high jump at the state level. He'll also stretch defenses with his three point ability.

Ashbeck is a do it all type of forward. He's going to play lock down style defense as well as catch and shoot.

Giving this team a lift off the bench is going to be Josiah Wik. The 5-8 guard plays with a bulldog mentality, and he's another great defender.

When the starting shooters come out, sophomore guard Jacob Corum will come in and be a spark plug offensively.

Rotating in the front court is going to be 6-4 sophomore Michael Cornia. This year will be less of a developmental year, as expectations are high on him.

Also making his varsity debut is going to be 5-10 junior guard Hunter Polley.

Under the new Patterson regime, Walla Walla is expected to play as fast-paced as ever. They've been working on their conditioning on the months leading up the season, and that should be a staple of their playing style.

This team is determined not to be too top heavy, as they are determined to get to the point where they can be nine deep.

Projection: Regardless of roster turnover or coaching changes, Walla Walla can always be counted on to put out a .500 record or better. The question becomes can they get over that hump, and beat teams like Richland and Kamiakin. Both of those teams look as dangerous as ever this year. Patterson understands the winning tradition at Walla Walla, and will do everything it takes to maximize it. Pencil them in for ten wins minimum, anything after that will come from how fast the supporting cast develops.

Key Games

Richland 12/18

@ Chiawana 1/4

Kamiakin 1/25

For more Eastside team previews, follow me on Twitter! @micah_chen