Coach Ballard ready

Brooklyn Wiens

Brett Ballard has kept busy since being hired as Washburn men’s basketball new head coach.

Ballard jumped into the role with individual and full team workouts that started in the spring. With all five starters returning for the 2017-18 season, Ballard has a lot to be hopeful for. 

Starters include senior guard Randall Smith, senior guard Cameron Wiggins, junior guard Javion Blake, junior forward David Salach and star senior forward Brady Skeens. 

Skeens is a two-time MIAA Defensive Player of the Year, first team All-MIAA selection and All-MIAA Defensive Team pick.

Also returning to the men’s team this year is senior guard Isaac Clark, sophomore guard Drew Pyle, sophomore guard Cooper Holmes and sophomore forward Clayton Holmberg. 

Ballard also has new talent arriving in the form of freshman with forward Will McKee, forward Aaron Simmons II and guard Tyler Geiman, a two-time conference Player of the Year. 

Geiman averaged 22 points per game his senior year at Blue Valley High School and was a finalist for the Kansas City Area Player of the Year.

Holmes, Blake and junior guard Tyas Martin talked about training regiments, working out in general and their experiences so far with Ballard as their new head coach.

“He focuses on the little stuff,” Martin said. “He really works with the bigs to sharpen their fundamentals.”

Holmes added that the coach is adamant about the team’s defense.

“Effort and toughness will be the foundation of what we do. We can’t allow the ball to get by us in dribble penetration,” said Ballard. “Offensively, it’s all about being in an attack mindset. Play inside out and attack the paint, but also looking for the bigs.”

On court lessons aren’t the only things that are being taught by Ballard.

“Coach is pretty [consistent] with the times and social media,” Blake said. “He makes sure to let us know that one mistake online can cost the entire team.”

Holmes and Martin said that Ballard doesn’t just focus on excellence on the court. Their new head coach also encourages the team to study hard and be respectful to all of those around them.

“Everything that we do off the court and on the court correlates,” said Ballard. “How they conduct themselves off the court will impact their habits and behaviors on the court and vice versa. One of the biggest things is work ethic and how hard they work and time put into it. Being on time is important to us, so is showing a level of respect to teammates and people that we are meeting.”

Ballard is happy with his experiences coaching at Washburn so far and is optimistic about the team in the coming season. 

“These guys sacrifice for the good of the team,” said Ballard. “The good thing is that these guys all seem to get along. We got a great group of guys – a humble group of guys who respect each other across the board.”