Javari Albergottie hears what people are telling him.
His Battery Creek boys basketball team -- and as senior point guard, the team is his -- looks little like its team from a season ago. Standout Brent Evans is gone. So are Norman Jenkins and C.J. Brown.
Everyone who made a significant splash with the 2009 Dolphins, including longtime coach John Drafts, has moved on. Everyone, except Albergottie.
And the engineer of the Dolphins' fast-paced, get-it-and-go style of play takes issue with those who tell him Battery Creek will not be the same.
"We got to prove to people we're here to stay," said Albergottie, who averaged 14 points and almost three assists per game as a junior.
That will be the challenge for the Dolphins and first-year coach Antoine Youmans, to manage high expectations despite a team that has taken a hit on paper. The Dolphins are coming off a school-record 24-win season. The year before that, the team reached the Lower State title game.
Youmans replaces Drafts, who coached 27 seasons and won four region title during the past decade. The bar is set.
"Even though we lost some real quality players ... the expectations are still going to be high," Youmans said. "They still expect you to keep the ball rolling and play a high level of basketball. The only thing I'm trying to get across to (the team) is, 'Be ready to play at a high level of basketball.' "
There is one constant. Youmans will not change the Dolphins' style, which emphasizes speed and getting the ball out quickly on the break.
Albergottie will lead the charge. With no player taller than 6-foot-3, there are few other options.
"Get the ball and run with it," senior Terrell McWilliams said. "It has to work for us."
McWilliams is a player Youmans will look to as a difference-maker. Without him, the Dolphins' situation could have been more dire.
The 6-foot-2 swingman transferred last year from Wade Hampton, but not in time to play basketball. Youmans expects McWilliams to fill a versatile role during his final high school season.
"He's going to provide us with at least three or four parts of the game -- ball-handling, rebounding and scoring," Youmans said. "We're definitely satisfied with that."
Youmans knows McWilliams from having coached his travel team when McWilliams was a freshman. Youmans also coached several Battery Creek players when they played for his Whale Branch Middle School team, so the adjustment to a new coach shouldn't be too severe.
The Dolphins' current group practiced together during summer workouts and also during allotted September time. Albergottie attended every function, Youmans said, assuming his place as team leader.
"You had some guys who, if they got overwhelmed, they took a day off during that time," Youmans said. "He didn't take days off."
Perhaps that is Albergottie's way of getting a head start on the team's critics.
Before a practice last week, the 5-foot-9 guard rummaged through a previously unopened box of Battery Creek's navy game jerseys. After discarding several options, he tugged on No. 3, size medium.
Ball in hand, Albergottie dropped back to about 3-point range on one of the side goals and drained a jump shot in his new duds.
He grinned. Perfect fit.
"We want kids who got a love for the game," Youmans said. "And we got a few kids on this team who have a love for the game. And after you have that, everything else kind of works itself out."
2010-11 PRESEASON ALL-AREA BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
G Javari Albergottie, BC (14.1 ppg, 2.8 apg)
G Matt Layman, HHP (10.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.8 apg, 2.5 spg)
F Dymonte Gwathney, Beau. (15.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
F Bennett Fultz, BA (22.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
G C.J. Frazier, Bluff. (10.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg)
STORYLINES TO WATCH
Coach (record at school): Antoine Youmans (1st year)
2009-10 record (playoff results): 24-2, 10-0 Region 8-AAA, lost to Lake City 75-67 in third round of Class 3-A playoffs
Notable losses: F Brent Evans (14.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg), F Norman Jenkins (9.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.3 apg), G C.J. Brown (7.7 ppg, 5.4 apg, 3.7 spg)
Returning starters: G Javari Albergottie (14.1 ppg, 2.8 apg)
Strengths: The Dolphins are small and fast. Albergottie is an experienced floor leader who will try to get Battery Creek out in transition.
Weaknesses: Battery Creek will have to address its depth after graduating the majority of its starters from last season. The Dolphins lack a true post-sized player.
Burning question: Can the Dolphins overcome all they have lost and compete for a region title?
Key player: Terrell McWilliams -- The newcomer should fill a variety of roles for coach Antoine Youmans and has earned praise for his rebounding ability, something the Dolphins will really need.
Key date: Dec. 10 -- The Dolphins welcome Beaufort High in the first of two rivalry meetings.
Javari Albergottie (Sr., G, 5-9), Terrell McWilliams (Sr., F, 6-2), Terrell Hazel (Soph., G, 5-9), Jamario Williams (Soph., F, 6-0), Justice Oliver (Jr., G, 5-10), Michael Robinson (Jr., G, 5-10), Benjamin Garvin (Sr., C, 6-3), Brent Johnson (Sr., G, 5-9), Rodney Cooper (Sr., F, 6-0), Leroy Jennette (Jr., G, 5-10)
Coach (record at school): Chip Dinkins (96-117, 9th season)
2009-10 record: 2-20 overall, 0-10 in SCISAA Region 1-AA
Notable losses: None
Returning starters: G Jack Griffith, G Billy Dailey, F Bennett Fultz, F Michael Bible, F Leif Koppernaes
Strengths: The entire team returns. The Eagles will rely on their quick, aggressive defense to create transition opportunities.
Weaknesses: Rebounding. How the Eagles hit the boards will be key to the team's overall success.
Burning question: Will the addition of Preston Suber and Finn Koppernaes help take some of the scoring burden off Bennett Fultz?
Key player: Bennett Fultz -- Fultz was the top scorer in the area last season, averaging 22.5 points per game. He put up big numbers every game despite opposing defenses focusing most of their attention on him.
Key date: Dec. 7 -- The Eagles host Cathedral Academy in their first SCISAA Region 1-AA game of the season. Beaufort Academy hopes to play the role of spoiler in the region this season.
Patrick Walker (Sr., G), Leif Koppernaes (Sr., G/F), Bennett Fultz (Sr., F), Chris Huckabee (Sr., C), Billy Dailey (Jr., G), Jack Griffith (Jr., G), Peyton Turner (Jr., G/F), Michael Bible (Jr., C), Jordan Littleford (Jr., F), Preston Stuber (Soph., G/F), Gibson Achurch (Soph., F), Connor Akers (Soph., G), Finn Kopernaes (Soph., F), Charles Sanford (Soph., G), Walker Floyd (Fr., F)
Coach (record at school): Bruce Beasley (252-249, 20th year)
2009-10 record: 9-14 overall
Notable losses: Lorenzo Moore (8 ppg, 4 apg), Kenny Davis (7 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
Returning starters: Dymonte Gwathney (15.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Rakeem Palmer (8.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Simeon Daise (3.2 ppg)
Strengths: Beasley is pleased with his team's depth, experience and versatility. He also believes team speed will aid both his offense and defense.
Weaknesses: The Eagles will need to fill a void left by Kenny Davis and Lorenzo Moore, who combined for 15 points per game last season.
Burning question: How well will the Eagles develop and play as a team as the season progresses?
Key player: Dymonte Gwathney -- The senior was the Eagles top player a season ago and will be called on again to lead Beaufort High.
Key date: Jan. 11 -- The Eagles' region-opener at Colleton County will provide a gauge for Beaufort High's playoff bid.
Jordan Adderly (Sr., G/F, 6-0), Keith Alston (Sr., G, 5-7), Tre Alston (Sr., F, 6-1), Franklin Bates (Sr., F, 6-0), Don Blackshear (Jr., C/F, 6-0), Jordan Broussard (Jr., G/F, 5-11), Keith Carpenter (Jr., G, 5-8), Benji Calderon (Sr., C/F, 6-0), Joey Chaplin (Jr., G, 5-10), Simeon Daise (Sr., G, 5-11), Ruben Francis (Sr., F, 6-0), Dymonte Gwathney (Sr., F, 6-2), Tyrone Holmes (Jr. ,C/F, 6-3), Rakeem Palmer (Sr., C/F, 6-3), Dante Smalls (Sr., G, 5-8), Martin Washington (Jr., F, 5-11)
Coach (record at school): Brett Macy (5-17, second year)
2009-10 record: 5-17 overall, 1-9 Region 8-AAA
Notable losses: G Stephen Bradley (4.4 ppg, 3.2 rbg, 2.7 apg, 1.4 spg), G Ryan Combs (6.1 ppg), F Coley Davis (2.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
Returning starters: G C.J. Frazier (10.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg), F Alfonza Powell (9.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.1 spg), F Bryson Bell (4.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.8 apg), PG Anthony Smith (3.3 ppg, 2.7 apg, 1.2 spg)
Strengths: The Bobcats are full of athletic players on the roster, so they can run and jump with anyone. They key will be using that athleticism to get up and down the floor in transition.
Weaknesses: Bluffton lost just three seniors, but it still has a very young team that lacks experience and hasn't yet won together as a group. Macy says the team learned some valuable lessons last season and he expects improvement.
Burning question: With much of its core group returning from a year ago, how much improvement is reasonable to expect in one year's time?
Key player: Bryson Bell -- The junior post player showed steady improvement last year. In order to continue along that path in 2010-11, Bell needs to take full advantage of his opportunities from close range.
Key date: Jan. 11 -- With a young roster, the Bobcats could be an up-and-down team. They hope to have more ups than downs by the time they open Region 7-AAA play against Lake Marion.
Anthony Smith (Soph., PG), Demitrius Smalls (Soph., PG), C.J. Frazier (Soph., G), Eric Boyles (Jr., G), Brandon Rivers (Sr., G), Michael Grant (Jr., G), Marquis Webber (Soph., G), Chris Davis (Jr., G), Bryson Bell (Jr., F), Michael Sulka (Jr., F), DeVaughn Frazier (Jr., F), Alfonza Powell (Sr., F), B.J. Kitty (Sr., F), Sherman Smalls (Sr., F), Harlan Kendrick (Soph., F), Matt Eisenring (Jr., F)
Coach (record at school): Kevin Wilson (6-15, second year)
2009-10 record: 6-15 overall, 4-8 Region 6-A
Notable losses: G/F Roman Hughes, F Jamal Roberts, F Clarence Brooks
Returning starters: G/F Jeremiah Nelson, G Donald Scott
Strengths: The Hurricanes are loaded with team speed, so Wilson says the team will try to use that to their advantage by applying defensive pressure in an effort to turn turnovers into transition buckets.
Weaknesses: Team size will be a glaring weakness this year, so the Hurricanes will have to double their efforts on the glass.
Burning question: Who will replace the scoring of Hughes, Roberts and Brooks?
Key player: Jeremiah Nelson -- One of the few non-football players on the roster, Nelson spent his offseason in the gym. He is an impressive shooter who will be relied on for points in bunches.
Key date: Jan. 18 -- The Hurricanes travel to Ridgeland, which is now a region rivaly game.
HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
Coach (record at school): Vinnie Emery (50-42 overall, first season at HHCA)
2009-10 record (playoff results): 20-5 overall, 6-4 SCISAA Region 3-AAA (Lost in first round of playoffs)
Notable losses: C Ethan Gort (12 ppg, 8.1 rpg), F Chris Ferraro (11 ppg, 7.8 rpg), G Zac Lenns (11.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 spg), G Weston Butler (4.9 ppg, 2.8 apg), F Devin McGuinness (5 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
Returning starters: G/F Taylor MacDonald (4.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
Strengths: The Eagles aren't short on athleticism, so they should be able to create some havoc on the defensive end and turn it into fast-break points.
Weaknesses: With only two players on the roster who played significant minutes for the varsity team last year -- MacDonald and guard JaBrook Tucker -- the Eagles are short on experience, which could hurt them in close games, especially early in the season.
Burning question: Are the players coming up from the junior varsity ready to play key roles on a team hopeful of competing for a playoff spot in a loaded region?
Key player: Taylor MacDonald -- The junior swingman is the Eagles' top returning scorer and rebounder, and they'll need him to take on a leadership role. At 6-foot-5 with good ball-handlng skills, he should present a matchup problem for most teams.
Key date: Jan. 8 -- That's when the Eagles open the region schedule with a home game against Porter-Gaud, so they have until that afternoon to develop an identity and jell as a team.
Brad Meccariello (Fr., G), C.J. Evanofski (Soph., G/F), Christian Andrews (Jr., G/F), Taylor MacDonald (Jr., G/F), Alex Martin (Jr., G/F), Zach Reynolds (Jr., F/C), Conner Millen (Soph., G), Bennett Murphy (Jr., F), Kyle Weaver (Jr., C), J.D. Meeder (Sr., G), JaBrook Tucker (Sr., G), Luke Sirgo (Sr., F)
HILTON HEAD HIGH
Coach (record at school): Ken Updike (9-16, 2nd year)
2009-10 record (playoff results): 9-16 overall, 5-5 Region 8-AAA (Lost to Lake City in first round of Class 3-A playoffs)
Notable losses: F Victor Frazier (9.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg), G Leon Hudson (8.9 ppg, 3.7 apg), G/F Clifford Morrow (4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.5 spg)
Returning starters: F Desmond Bush (3.8 ppg), G Will McCarty (5 ppg), F/C Michael Julian (5.3 ppg, 4.6 ppg)
Strengths: The Seahawks have options on the perimeter and should be able to knock down their fair share of 3-pointers this season.
Weaknesses: The top two leading scorers -- Frazier and Hudson -- are gone, meaning the Seahawks will have to find players that can put the ball in bucket.
Burning question: Will the Seahawks be able to limit turnovers this season offensively and create extra possessions by forcing turnovers defensively?
Key player: Michael Julian -- The only player who brings experience to the frontcourt, Julian needs to be a low-post presence to help open up the outside game for the Seahawks.
Key date: Jan. 11 -- The Seahawks were able to reach the .500 mark in region play last year. Their first chance to take a step forward will be a home game against Cane Bay in a new-look Region 7-AAA.
Quintin Smalls (Sr., G, 5-4), Will McCarty (Sr., G, 5-7), Desmond Bush (Sr., G, 5-10), Kevin Champen (Jr., G, 5-10), T.J. Clay (Sr., F, 5-11), Tate Hoisington (Sr., F, 5-10), Adam Viventi (Sr., F, 6-0), Desmond Bonaparte (Jr., G, 5-10), Chris MacMurray (Soph., G, 5-11), Michael Julian (Soph., F, 6-4), Joe Cole (Jr., F, 5-10), Shakane Simmons (Jr., F, 6-3), Alex MacDonald (Jr., C, 6-3)
HILTON HEAD PREP
School: Hilton Head Prep
Coach (record at school): Rich Basirico (489-180 at HHP, 26th season)
2009-10 record (playoff results): 20-8 overall, 6-4 SCISAA Region 3-AAA (Reached state semifinals)
Notable losses: G Dominic DiGenova (24.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.7 spg), G Tyler Bowman (2.0 ppg), G De'Ante Scott (3.8 ppg, 1.9 apg)
Returning starters: G Matt Layman (10.8 ppg, 5.8 apg), G Dimitri Lowry (6.8 ppg, 3.6 apg), F Alex Orford (5.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg), F Patrick Andrews (9.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
Strengths: With three players who averaged more than five rebounds per game last season, the Dolphins should be tough on the boards.
Weaknesses: After you get past the four returning starters, the Dolphins are short on experience, so just how deep they'll be able to go off the bench is a major concern.
Burning question: Where will the Dolphins find 24.5 points per game to replace Dominic DiGenova's production?
Key player: Dimitri Lowry -- If Lowry has matured enough to take over the point guard role full-time, it would free up Layman to play on the wing, where his versatility would be a major asset.
Key date: Jan. 21 -- That's when perennial power Pinewood Prep visits the island and the Dolphins find out where they fall on the spectrum between marginal playoff team and state title contender.
Patrick Andrews (Sr., F), Franklyn Bakala (Jr., G), Jon Dillon (Soph., F), Kevin Glick (Sr., F), Tim Godshalk (Sr., G/F), George Hirsch (Sr., G), Kyle Jordan (Sr., F), Matt Layman (Sr., G), Dimitri Lowry (Jr., G), Danny Maggard (Sr., F), L.J. Orage (Jr., F), Alex Orford (Sr., F), Bo Strimpfel (Jr., F)
Coach: Jeremiah Faber
2009-10 record (playoff results): 14-10, 6-4 Region 5-AA (Lost to Woodland 45-43 in first round of Class 2-A playoffs)
Notable losses: Brent Walker (14.8 ppg), Xavier Roberts (12.3 ppg), Juwan Hugue (7.3 rpg)
Returning starters: Torray Amlett (5.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
Strengths: Faber likes the versatility of his lineup. He said the Jaguars don't have a lot of size, ut can handle the ball well at multiple positions.
Weaknesses: The Jaguars will be inexperienced at point. Sophomore Jeremy Scott will get the call to run Ridgeland's offense.
Burning question: How will the Jaguars fare at point guard and in the post, two positions where the team lacks experience?
Key player: Tyron Mikell -- The 6-foot-4 junior impressed on junior varsity last season and is expected to start at power forward.
Key date: Dec. 4 -- The Jags open at home against former region rival Wade Hampton.
Jeremy Scott (Soph., G, 5-9), Jac'que Polite (Sr., C, 6-5), Trevon Patterson (Sr., G, 6-0), Jerry Scott (Jr., G, 5-9), Maurice Dargon (Jr., 6-4, F), Tevin Stevenson (Sr., G/F, 6-2), Derrick Solomon (Jr., F, 6-2), Xavier Capers (Soph., G, 6-0), Reshean Brown (Sr., G, 5-8), Torray Amlett (Jr. G/F, 6-3), Darren Clark (Sr., G, 6-1), Charles Mitchell (Fr., G, 6-1), Tyron Mikell (Jr., F, 6-4), Medicus Deloach (Sr., G, 6-1)
THOMAS HEYWARD ACADEMY
Coach (record at school): Philip Rhodes (231-159, 22nd season)
2009-10 record: 8-15 overall, 0-10 in SCISAA Region 2-AAA
Notable losses: G Paul Michael Osborne, G Perry Pender, F Scott Malphrus, F Brandon Nettles
Returning starters: G Logan Mock, F Don Simmons
Strengths: The Rebels expect to be extremely quick as a team and have several proven outside shooters.
Weaknesses: The tallest player on the team is 6-foot-2, so the Rebels will face matchup problems in the post.
Burning question: After playing in SCISAA Class 3-A the past two seasons, reclassification moves Thomas Heyward back to Class 2-A. Will playing schools closer to their own size lead to a playoff run?
Key player: Logan Mock -- Just like in football, Mock will be key to the Rebels' success this season. He led Thomas Heyward in steals (4.8 per game) and assists (4.2) last season as a junior.
Key date: Dec. 9 -- The Rebels get an early road test at Hilton Head Prep. With all the talent the Dolphins return, keeping the score close could bode well for the rest of the season.
J.D. Tuten (5-9, Soph., G), JA Malphrus (6-2, Sr., F), Devon Riley (6-1, Jr., F), Logan Mock (5-8, Sr., G), Taylor Cowart (5-9, Jr., G), Will Richardson (5-11, Jr., F), Ryan Day (5-7, Soph., G), Don Simmons (5-1, Sr., F), Amar Patel (5-9, Jr., F), Joe Laycock (5-11, Jr., F), Jonathan McLemore (6-2, Jr., F), Coulter Bergman (6-2, Sr., F)
Coach (record at school): Linc Lyles (First year)
2009-10 record (playoff results): N/A
Notable losses: N/A
Returning starters: N/A
Strengths: Lyles thinks his team's youth and athleticism will both be positives for the Warriors, in their first year as a program.
Weaknesses: Youth could also be a problem, as Whale Branch has no seniors. Lyles said the Warriors will need to master fundamentals.
Burning question: How long will it take the Warriors to adapt to a new, fundamentals-based system, which will include relentless defense, motion offense and a focus on weight training?
Key player: Stedmon James -- The quarterback of the Warriors football team also will be called on to lead his young teammates on the basketball court.
Key date: "We were picked seventh of eight teams in our region preseason," Lyles said. "All dates are key."
Chavonne Simmons (Fr. G, 5-10), Wesley Riley (Fr., G, 5-7), Eric Frazier (Jr., G, 5-7), Demetrius Jones (Fr., G, 5-11), Tyshawn Fields (Jr., G, 5-7) Dominique Hugue (Jr., F, 5-10), Parish Magwood (Jr., F, 6-0), Davon Mack (Jr., G, 5-7), Josh Fields (Jr., G, 5-7), Charles Kiles (Soph., F, 5-11), De'Vonte Lykes (Soph., G, 6-0), Jay Abney (Fr., F, 6-1), Devonta Glover (Fr., F, 6-1), Leroy Perry (Fr., F, 6-0), Stedmon James (Jr., F, 6-1)