Bowie High School ended the 2013-14 boys' basketball season in March with a 77-61 loss to Charles H. Flowers in the 4A South Region semifinals and with the knowledge it would be losing the bulk of its core players to graduation.
Jared Gray, DeJuan Smith, Cory Washington and Everett Chambers represented four of the team's top five scorers and they all graduated. Christian Bryant, Anthony Barnes and Eugene Appiah-Kubi are expected to step into larger roles this winter.
So playing in the BSN summer league at DeMatha Catholic is vital for the young Bulldogs, assistant coach Walter Booth said. He is acting as head coach during the summer to give the team a different voice and perspective.
“We got pretty much a new team. We got only four guys, I think, returning from last year,” Booth said following Friday's game against Capitol Christian. “So, we're just trying to grow as one and trust in each other, learn how to play with each other and learn how to win together.”
Bryant, who will be a junior in the fall, averaged seven points per game last season. The point guard said he wants to use the summer league as an opportunity to improve against better competition.
“It can get us ready for the season, playing a lot of different private schools,” Bryant said. “It's just a lot of good schools and just prepares us for [Prince George's] County.”
The BSN league is played throughout the entire month of June with a playoffs scheduled for July.
Preparation will be important for Bryant as he steps into a bigger role this season. He said he'll be seeing an increased opportunity to display his skills.
“I think it's a chance to show what I can do,” Bryant said. “I got a good chance to show what I [could do] last year — just show a little bit more this year and try to get a championship.”
Barnes and Appiah-Kubi want to use the summer as a chance for the team to improve defensively.
“Being stronger defensively, good rotations on defense and playing harder,” Barnes said about what can translate into the regular season.
“Defense, that's my favorite thing,” Appiah-Kubi added. “Getting the ball, strapping the best player up.” He also said that he wants to work on his leadership and being a guy that can carry the team.
Booth is optimistic about the Bulldogs.
“I think with the returning guys of Christian, A.J. Barnes, Eugene and Charles [Massey], those guys have been at the varsity level and have been in that experience,” Booth said. “I just like the enthusiasm and energy. I want the guys to bring that and kind of sacrifice their personal [stats] for the greater good of the team. I think if we can do that over the summer; that's going to help us big time going into the winter.”