Kaimen Lennox had a breakout season as a junior, putting up numbers big enough to get noticed among the area’s top point guards.
So what does the Truman senior plan to do for an encore?
“I want to raise my (scoring) average and get my 1,000th point, I’m close to that,” Lennox said. “And I’m just trying to make Coach the happiest he can be.”
Of course, Truman coach Rod Briggs would be overjoyed to have Lennox produce like he did last season when he averaged 18.3 points, 2.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds a game. But more points won’t translate into more happiness.
Briggs, in fact, would be happy if Lennox doesn’t score as much this season. He doesn’t need to,
“I think he really won’t have to do as much because I think we have more around him this year,” Briggs said as the Patriots scrimmaged in a preseason jamboree Thursday at Raytown South. “So him realizing he really doesn’t have to force much but he can take over a game when he needs to.”
The 6-foot-2 Lennox filled a need on last season’s inexperienced Patriot team as he developed on the floor. But with four starters back from last year’s 13-13 squad, Briggs believes Lennox won’t have to carry the offensive load this season.
Sam Billimon, a 6-2 senior guard, who averaged nine points a game last season, and Jeilel Phillips, a 6-2 senior forward, who averaged eight points, will provide the Patriots more experience and offense. Cam Robins, a 5-7 senior guard, and Macio Moananu, a 6-3 junior forward, also started last season.
“Kaimen may still average his 18, but we’ll still see a lot of guys between that eight to 12 points,” Briggs said. “It could be different guys every night, and I think that’s good.”
Briggs believes that could be good for Lennox and his development on the floor as a defender and leader. It’s also helped Lennox find a comfort level because he’s surrounded by veterans like him.
“I’m a leader but I have to become more vocal,” Lennox said. “The younger guys, they need to learn a lot more from me. But we have more experience, more chemistry … anything you can name.”
Blue Springs, much like Truman, also returns a veteran nucleus with three returning starters: 5-10 senior guard Cooper Willich, 6-8 junior forward Eli Wingert and 5-6 sophomore guard Kyle Bruce. And while the Wildcats have only two seniors, coach Adam Jones said they aren’t totally green.
“They’re young but they’re very experienced,” Jones said. “They’ve played a lot of basketball and they’ve played a lot together. It’s been an easy transition.”
Wingert, one of the Wildcats’ top scorers last season, could be their main threat again. He handles the ball well away from the basket and he can shoot from 3-point range.
“We’re going to have a pretty well balanced group for scoring,” Jones said. “We’ve got some threats. We’ve got four pretty talented sophomores that can score for us along with Eli.”
Jones will find out who good those threats are when Blue Springs kicks off its season Dec. 2 at Lee’s Summit West. Truman opens Dec. 5 in the Phog Allen Classic at William Chrisman.