After spending the last few months putting together the roster for his first season at South Arkansas Community College, Cam Robinson and the Stars are ready to get the ball rolling.
The Stars will do just that tonight against Champion Christian’s JV squad with a 7 pm start in Hot Springs.
The Stars will also head to Texas to face Dallas College-Eastfield at 6 pm on Friday before opening a two-game homestand next Tuesday.
Texas has been a frequent destination for the Stars, who made two trips in October for a pair of jamborees that helped give the players exposure to four-year college coaches.
The first trip took place during the first week of October with the Stars going 2-1.
“It was good,” Robinson said. “I’m letting those guys play around in an environment that’s around different competition because at that point, we were going against each other a lot, so we needed to go against different people and push them out a little bit more, and then just to be around an environment where you have some coaches, it was good.”
The Stars went 1-1 in their trip a couple of weeks ago, and Robinson was pleased with what he saw.
“It was really nice,” Robinson said. “Good atmosphere. A lot of Division I coaches, a lot of NAIA coaches as well. For guys that are playing on the JUCO level, it’s about trying to build the recruitment. We’re starting to get some attention.
“Some guys that I used to coach against have asked about some guys beforehand, trying to see who they need to look at. It’s gradually going to come. With the history of the program being new, not too many people know about it. That’s getting us out there. Some of the guys having a good showing, it’s going to build some momentum to get some attention as the season goes on.”
The Texas trips also gave the Stars several games to work out the kinks prior to the start of the season.
“It’s been good, solid,” Robinson said. “Actually the first time we went down, we had four guys out. The second time was the first time where I had pretty much 90% of my team. I had some guys come back in the last couple of games, so I didn’t want to do too much, but I did see a lot of positives with those guys being back. I’m excited with it. It’s going to make our practices better now that we have everybody coming back.
“We have a lot of little things that we have to work on. It definitely was a good thing just trying to figure out who goes with who, what group plays good with each other. I’m definitely excited about it.”
Robinson said practices have been going well.
“Everything has been good,” Robinson said. “Going into the first year, everything is about establishing that mentality, establishing your coaching and trying to get everybody to buy in to what it is that you want to do and how they need to perform and go about things to build a successful situation.
“It’s been going good, guys are buying in, the only hiccup has been we’ve been dealing with a couple of injuries with some guys that have been in and out. We’re gradually starting to get those guys healthy now. There’s still a little lingering and things like that, but for the most part, it’s been good. Guys have been working hard, no complaints.”
One thing Robinson said he would do early on is try out different combinations on the floor.
“We’re definitely going to make some changes for the first couple of games of the season, just to try to see how some things look together,” Robinson said.
The Stars have several newcomers, but former Junction City standouts Zak Brown and Jerrodney Tubbs are back for the Stars.
“He’s a returner from last year. He’s athletic, plays defense and can shoot the ball,” Robinson said of Brown. “He’ll be a fan favorite just because he’s going to play hard whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. He’s going to give you everything.”
The newcomers are expected to make an immediate impact for the Stars.
EJ Anderson, a sophomore from Little Rock who transferred from Williams Baptist, is slated to be the Stars’ point guard.
“He’s constantly getting better,” Robinson said. “He’s a real good, aggressive defender.”
Caleb Allen, also a Little Rock native, transferred from Mid-South Community College, and Robinson has high expectations for the sophomore.
“He’s a great shooter,” Robinson said. “He should be our leading scorer. He’s athletic, he can shoot the three-ball, good defender. He can give you a little of anything how you want it.”
The Stars landed another transfer from Mid-South Community College in Stuttgart’s Tim Johnson, who is the team captain.
“He’s athletic, tough, he brings it every day at practice,” Robinson said. “The players love him. They follow behind everything that he says. He’s an energetic guy. He’s more of our three-and-D guy right now, but once we get going, he’s going to be the heart of the team.”
The Stars went outside of Arkansas to land several of their newcomers.
Braedon Edison, a freshman forward, hails from Katy, Texas.
“This is his freshman year. He was a post-grad kid last year,” Robinson said. “He can dribble the ball, he can handle the ball, pass it, can post up, he can shoot the three, big body. He’s gotten in way better shape than we he first came in, so he’s been able to ramp up a little bit. He’s a versatile defender.”
The Stars also landed Raheem Briggs, a freshman forward who is a native of Omaha, Neb.
“He’s an athletic forward with a lot of ability,” Robinson said. “He can make the three-point shot and plays hard. He has a lot of good potential for the future.”
The Stars also added Jalen King, a freshman guard from Atlanta, Ga.
“He’s been dealing with a groin injury,” Robinson said. “He plays hard, versatile defending about 6-3, 6-4.”
The Stars also went to Louisiana to land Shreveport native Daveion Coleman, who is a freshman forward.
“He can shoot the three ball,” Robinson said. “He can post up, he can shoot the ball, he can handle the ball, he can go from coast to coast. Just working on that mental part. Going from high school to college, especially JUCO, that mentality has got to be on a whole other level. They’re getting there and working hard.
“Daveion’s actually been out at least a month with a knee injury, so he’s just now starting to get back. We’re trying to work him in and get him acclimated.”
As far as Region 2 goes, Robinson said he had the chance to see several of the schools while playing in Texas.
“I definitely have a relationship with the coaches at the conference,” Robinson said. “I actually got to watch them play, and it’s going to be a tough league. The league has gotten better each year. The coaches are setting their game up. They’re adding some top-notch talent that are Division I talents, Division II talents, so it’s going to be tough. That’s going to add to it and make the league even more competitive.
“National Park, looking at them practice and play and talking with some of the other coaches, they’re going to be a team that’s probably a favorite going in. SAU Tech has won it the last few years and are probably going to be in the running again. Mid-South consistently are who they are. North Ark is going to bring it. They’re a well-coached program and they always have a good team.
“Cossatot is going to play hard. I just watched them play. They’re physical and athletic. Every game, we’re going to have to bring it. There is no layup game. I know historically SouthArk has kind of been there a little bit and I’m doing everything in my power so that’s not the case this year or anytime soon. When you come to El Dorado, you’re going to have to fight to earn the win.”
Robinson said he has a simple mandate for the Stars to meet in his first year.
“Play hard and compete,” Robinson said. “That’s all we need right now. If we do those things consistently, then the sky is the limit and the winning will come. That’s really been everything that I’ve been preaching since I got the guys on campus. The X’s and O’s will come. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have the toughness or the heart to maintain what you’re going through, you’re going to lose games.
“Everything I’m preaching is just being tough. When you hit the ground, get up real quick and compete. The guy next to you is trying to get a four-year scholarship just like you are, so why should their coach choose you over him? Why should he choose your teammate?
“While you’re competing against your teammates, you’re all on the same page and the common goal is to help win because the more you win, the more those coaches come down and pay attention to you. If you don’t win, you get no attention or don’t get as much attention. You’ve got to fight in June, July and August to get to school.
“I’m liking my guys. We’re working hard. The goal is to win, but as I tell the players all the time, Rome wasn’t built in a day. As long as we’re putting together the right process to do what we need to do, we’re going to be in a position to win quite a few ballgames this year. I’m excited to get going.”