David Bramble is experiencing a hoops overhaul this summer.
The Bowdon High School boys' head basketball coach graduated the majority of his roster, or at least those with varsity experience, making for a steep learning curve for the newcomers throughout the month of June.
The Red Devils have hit the ground running with several play dates against local programs and also attended the Temple Team Camp last week before taking off for Tennessee this week for a three-day stay at the FCA Team Camp at Bryan College on Monday-Wednesday. Bowdon will wrap up its summer slate next week by playing five games in two days at LaGrange.
Bramble said one of the main areas of emphasis this summer is getting the younger players up to speed at the varsity level with only three players returning from last year's squad with quality experience.
"We've got a good freshman group that we're trying to get acclimated. Of course, we lost almost everybody from last year's varsity team. So we're just trying to get everybody on the same page as quick as possible," Bramble said.
After losing Zach Ledbetter, Trajan Brown, Martrez "Dede" Cox and Scott Cunningham to graduation, the Red Devils are leaning on lone returning starter and rising senior Chris Parker to take on the role of team leader this summer.
Parker averaged 14.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game last season, but Bowdon graduated nearly 50 points per game between the aforementioned outgoing seniors, including 1,000-point career scorer Ledbetter, who averaged 19.3 points per contest in 2017-18.
"It's been a challenge for him so far going from one of the guys to the guy," Bramble said of Parker. "Just knowing when to take over. He's a very unselfish player. He's willing to pass it, but I'm trying to get him to realize that sometimes you've got to take over a little bit. He's adjusting to that."
Beyond Parker's play-making abilities, Bowdon returns sophomore guard Andrew Messer and senior wing Daniel Eason, while it will also get a boost from a few guys who are returning to the court after not playing last season.
"Andrew Messer got some big minutes as a freshman last year. We'll look to him to possibly be our point guard. Daniel Eason is another one that will be a senior. Then we had a couple of kids in the school that just didn't play last year with Ben Fortson and Trent Estes. I think they'll help us. Of course, they're a little rusty and haven't played in a year, so they're having to get back into it. Another one that came out that hasn't played is Mo Raymond and he's going to be good for us inside," Bramble said. "Then the freshman group, it's just a matter of how fast they can pick up the speed of the game. They're a promising group."
Bramble was looking forward to getting away for a few days and doing some team bonding at the FCA Camp at Bryan College this week, noting how it will serve as a positive for the players both on and off the court.
"It's a real good thing. We play eight games in about two and a half days. That kind of tells you what the kids are made of," Bramble said. "We've had a couple weeks of practice and now we're trying to get some game speed and get them acclimated to how fast the high school game is."
With the potential of playing up to five freshmen this winter in the varsity rotation, Bramble stressed how valuable the summer is to get those guys on board upon making the transition from middle school basketball to the varsity level.
"The biggest thing is just getting them all to mesh and play together," Bramble said. "It's bringing in a group of freshmen that have never played with any of these guys, pretty much. I just want to see them play together and always playing hard and get used to what we want to do on defense. On the offensive end, it's been sluggish so far. But I'm all right with that as long as we keep getting better, especially on defense."