After coming oh so close last year, Winthrop wants nothing more than another crack at winning a gold ball.

But if graduating eight seniors, half of them starters, isn’t enough to convince the Ramblers they can’t just pick up where they left off last season, coach Todd MacArthur is reminding them they have a lot of work to do.

“Come January and February, we can be a team that challenges people. But we’re not remotely close yet,” he said.

The rebuilding starts with a talented junior class,  which includes several key contributors from last year.

The lone returning starter, 6-foot-8 center Cam Wood, has recovered from a broken foot that forced him to sit out summer basketball. A major paint presence at both ends, he will need junior guards Nate LeBlanc and Jared McLaughlin to keep opposing defenses honest from the perimeter. 

It may take time for the Ramblers to mesh and find a go-to guy to replace MVC Player of the Year Jacob Hickey. In the meantime, they’ll rely on their trademark hard-nosed defense to compete in a strengthened MVC.

Coach: Todd MacArthur (seventh year)

Conference: MVC; Class: C South

Last year’s results: 21-1, lost in Class C state championship.

Returning players: Juniors — Cam Wood (6-8 center), Nate Leblanc (6-3 guard), Jared McLaughlin (6-0 guard), Beau Brooks (6-0 guard), Sam Figueroa (6-5 center); Sophomore — Jevin Smith (6-3 forward).

Key losses: Jacob Hickey, Garrett Tsouprake, Bennett Brooks, Spencer Steele, Nate Scott, Andrew Pazdziorko.

Promising newcomers: Senior — Greg Fay (6-2 forward), Leonard Hills (6-2 guard); Junior — Jackson Ladd (6-0 guard); Sophomores — Bradley Bourne (6-0 guard), Ryan Baird (6-3 forward).

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