The Chesapeake men’s basketball team attained something two years ago that had long been missing from the program – respect.
The Skipjacks finished 18-9 in Andrew Sachs’ first campaign, posting their first winning season in seven years and the best record in 12.
“We want to take the program to a level where it’s never been before,” said Sachs, whose 2020-2021 season was cancelled by the pandemic. “I don’t think we are going to be there yet, but we are certainly moving in the right direction. Our record verified what we are doing is the right thing.”
Chesapeake has the players to meet the high expectations this season.
The Skipjacks are quick, athletic and possess a deep and vastly talented group of guards.
Chesapeake boasts crafty sophomore point guard Mahzi Thames and sharpshooter Craig Turner, a sophomore.
Two transfers, 6-foot-6 forward Jabraun Shingler (Chipola Junior College in Florida) and guard Jalen Freeman (Hagerstown Community College), bolster the lineup.
It should all add up to another strong season for the Skipjacks, who open the season Tuesday at Mercer Community College in New Jersey.
“We should be better than we were in my first year,” explained Sachs, who noted 20 wins would be a good season. “I think our backcourt is as good as anybody’s in our region.”
Thames, a graduate of Meade High in Anne Arundel County, is arguably the Skipjacks’ best player. He led the team in scoring and assists in 2020.
Thames is a reliable ball-hander. He also rebounds and defends well and can hit the three-pointer.
“There were only two guys two years ago that were all-Maryland JUCO freshmen, and he was one of them,” Sachs said. “He has great size and vision in the lane, which most point guards in our league don’t. He is not a five-10 guard. He is six-three with length and does a good job of holding guys off.”
Thames will be passing the ball often to Turner, who hit 42 percent of his three-point attempts in 2020.
Turner is a strong, mature player who has a great shooting technique.
“He is one of the better shooters in the league,” Sachs said. “He gives me such great effort. He is one of our hardest workers. Guys look up to him and he certainly will be able to play at the next level.”
The two transfers will be important to any success Chesapeake may have.
“I expect them to play a lot of minutes for us,” Sachs said.
Shingler intimidates at both ends of the court. He has a variety of post moves and can play on the perimeter. He anchors a frontcourt that also includes freshmen Dayvon Faulk (6-7) and Chris Mateo (6-5)
“His biggest asset is his versatility,” Sachs said. “He is an inside-outside player. He is a guy who can post up and score and can handle the ball.”
Freeman, a freshman guard, is a graduate of Kent County High. He has the tools to emerge as a major point producer. Freeman also can play harassing defense all over the floor.
“He is an explosive player,” Sachs says. “He can get to the rim. He can also play point guard for us. I can use him in a lot of different spots.”
The backcourt also includes three key contributors: freshmen DJ Earl, JayShaun Freeman and Terry White.
“I love the talent and experience we have,” Chesapeake assistant coach Delonte Joyce said. “What makes us different from our first year is the experience. Everyone was new that year.”