"We had an excellent summer," said Mike Tobin, Wildcat boys basketball head coach. "We had 25 scrimmages ... and had a productive team camp at Georgia College and State University (Milledgeville). Many players were very dedicated and committed in an attempt to improve individual and team development."
"We return three of our top six players from last season," he added. "We should be very competitive."
Last year's team finished with a 10-14 record and played in the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Tournament championship game (second year in a row), defeating Cartersville in that tournament as well, the first meeting between the teams in seven years.
It also swept Adairsville and included among its victories a 73-70 defeat of Hillgrove, the No. 5 state-ranked team in AAAA.
Tobin, whose career varsity record improved to 319-147 over 18 years, said this year's edition of the Wildcats has a number of key returnees.
Starter Adam Tobin, the coach's son and member of the Rome News-Tribune all-tournament team, led the Wildcats in drawn charges with 11 and had one of the highest field goal percentages on the team, its second highest efficiency rating and was one of only three players with more assists than turnovers.
The coach said Adam Tobin, a 6-foot-4-inch senior guard/forward, will be called on to shoot more this season.
Daryel Morris, an explosive player and excellent rebounder -- leading the team with 144, had the Wildcats' second highest efficiency rating.
Morris, a 6-foot-2-inch senior guard, was hampered by injuries last year and coaches hope to see a healthier player who strings together more games like those he had against Rome (14 points, 8 assists, 13 rebounds) and Paulding County (14 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists).
Isaiah Niblet is another key senior returnee, one Tobin described as an "excellent defender" who is very physical and improved throughout the season.
"He pushed his teammates and himself to get better," according to the coach.
Tobin said Niblet, 6 feet, 1 inch, sees the floor well and was one of the team's three players with more assists than turnovers.
His best game likely was against Sprayberry, with 3 assists, 4 rebounds and 7 points.
Niblet also was voted the team's best defensive player last season.
Tobin said the team also will be counting on Terrell Pressley, a 5-foot-8-inch senior who appeared in 12 varsity games.
He credited Pressley, a guard, as pushing himself and his team hard in practice and said he has a great attitude and is a good teammate.
Coach Tobin said juniors Xavier Niblet (6 feet, 3 inches) forward and Chandler Royal (6 feet, 3 inches), forward/center, will be major contributors to a successful year by the Wildcats.
Xavier Niblet is expected to contribute in a big way to the team defense.
He is considered an excellent defender and leader and coaches "expect big things out of Xavier the next two seasons."
Royal is another of the team's "very aggressive, hard-working players."
Royal had 41 offensive rebounds last year and was the only player with more offensive than defensive rebounds.
The Wildcats also are looking for big things from sophomore guard RJ Williams.
Tobin said the 5-foot, 10-inch Williams got a lot of valuable experience when he was moved permanently to the varsity and junior varsity team last year.
"(That) will help him tremendously the next three years," according to Tobin.
Williams was the third Wildcat with more assists than turnovers (27-17).
Williams, who played in 21 games, also contributed from the 3-point line.
The Wildcats also expected a contribution from Greg Murphy, a sophomore guard/forward who played on the ninth grade and JV teams last year.
Murphy is considered an explosive scorer with excellent post moves and is a solid perimeter shooter.
The team also is expecting contributions from senior forwards Cameron Mayweather, 5 feet, 11 inches, and Jacquez McKay, 6 feet, 1 inch.
Tobin said the season should be interesting.
"The region is shaping up to be very competitive," he said.