In the world of sports, there is arguably nothing more valuable in the locker room than a veteran presence. Behind almost every successful team, there are experienced players that fill out the roster who are there to lead and guide the younger players both on and off the court.
In Delaware, there are plenty of veterans in the organization that are ready take charge and lead the Blue Coats back to the promised land this season.
While the team was very successful last year, many of the key pieces from last year’s team have moved on from the organization. This season, the Blue Coats have 11 new players, coming alongside newly hired Head Coach Coby Karl and General Manager Prosper Karangwa. Even for the players that are returning to the Blue Coats, there are adjustments that need to be made all across the board if the team wants to get comfortable in the win column again.
Most of the roster will be adjusting to a completely new environment, system and coaching staff, which is something that not many of the younger players have experience in doing. While less experienced players on the roster like Jaden Springer and Brian Cameron are new to the professional basketball scene, veterans like Jared Brownridge have had to make adjustments in their careers before.
“As a player, you always have to learn to adapt to new coaches,” Brownridge said. “Just as new coaches have to learn to adapt to new players.”
This is surely a message that is being echoed throughout the locker room, as getting comfortable with old systems is something that young players will want to avoid.
Of the 14 active players on the Blue Coats roster, only Brownridge and Braxton Key are returning players from last year’s team. Haywood Highsmith has also played in Delaware in years past, but the landscape of the organization has undergone tremendous change since then.
Making this type of adjustment can be difficult for many players, as history has shown that some guys have had difficulty translating their game from the collegiate level to the professional level. Terms such as “bust” often haunt young talent out of the fear of receiving that label, which can make it mentally difficult for some players who go through rough patches.
In Delaware, Shaq Harrison had some advice for his young teammates new to the G League.
“Keep grinding and stay positive because it’s a revolving door,” Harrison said. “Things can change like that, so you always have to have a prepared mindset.”
Harrison is new to the Blue Coats roster this season, but he has played in both the NBA and G League for the better part of the last five years of his career. Since 2016, Harrison has played in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz. However, he began his career in the G League with the Northern Arizona Suns back in 2016.
A shared goal of many G League players is to work their ways into the NBA, whether that be for the first time or as a returning player. Harrison is a player in the Blue Coats locker room that knows what it takes to work his way from the G League to the NBA.
“Perseverance,” Harrison said. “There are going to be times where there aren’t any roster spots open or somebody else gets called up that you played well against. You have to persevere through all of that and keep a positive mindset.”
This message is definitely one that Harrison is likely to repeat throughout the season to all of his teammates. While getting an NBA contract is a goal of many players, Harrison also notes that the G League is a platform of opportunity for each player to prove their worth and develop their game.
“The G League has been great [for basketball],” Harrison said. “You see a lot of the guys in the NBA now have some type of G League experience, and I think that speaks for itself. It helps guys gain confidence and develop.”
With the G League season just about underway, many young players in the league are going to be turning to their veteran teammates for leadership and advice throughout the season. Luckily for the Blue Coats, veterans such as Jared Brownridge, Shaq Harrison and others are present in the locker room to provide that leadership for the team’s young talent.
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