Ricky Wilson has been in perpetual motion since becoming the men’s basketball coach at Baton Rouge Community College two weeks ago.
The notion of a third-year program getting off to a fresh start might seem a bit absurd. But then so does taking a job less than three weeks before the season starts and expecting to win.
Winning while making the most of a new beginning is exactly what the former University of Southern Mississippi assistant coach expects from the Bears.
“We have a bunch of guys who are eager for direction and who are willing to learn,” Wilson said. “I think we have a great mix of athletic players and guys who can shoot.”
Wilson takes over a program that finished 17-13 last season under Todd Foster. Though there will be some familiar faces when the Bears line up to face Pearl River Community College in Thursday’s season opener, player introductions will be needed.
The roster turnover was part of a typical two-year transition of players. The Bears have three players from Houston and one from Charlotte, N.C.
Lyonne Richardson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, is among the newcomers from Houston. Other Houston players joining Richardson include 6-1 freshman Maliak Henderson and 6-6 sophomore Patrick Agho. Tyson Goldwire, a 6-4 freshman, is from Charlotte.
“What attracted me to this program was I knew the players who were coming with me, and I thought we could do things,” Richardson said. “And I knew some players from Baton Rouge. I saw possibilities.
“I love our head coach. He pushes us hard every day. There are no excuses.”
The possibilities Wilson sees are also based on the size the Bears will have. In addition to Agho, who started his career at Nicholls State, BRCC has a 6-9 post player in sophomore Bouna Niang, a native of Senegal, West Africa, and 6-7 forward-guard Matthew LeBato, an ex-Sulphur High standout and the son of Sulphur coach Clint LeBato.
A list of familiar faces on the BRCC roster starts with 6-1 freshman Levie Wright, who helped Scotlandville advance to the Class 5A title game the past two seasons.
Other local players include 6-0 sophomore Scott Burgess (Dutchtown), 5-9 sophomore Roy Knox (Istrouma), 6-2 sophomore Demetri Gill (Maurepas) and 6-1 sophomore Avery Prince (Christian Life).
Wright, Burgess and Gill were All-Metro selections as prep players.
“It’s close to home so my family can come watch me play,” LeBato said. “I also feel like it’s is a good spot to try to get to the Division I level from.
“Coach Wilson is definitely what the doctor ordered for us. He’s a late hire, but he’s put us to work. I think we’re still going to be all right.”
A former point guard at Idaho, Wilson worked in corporate sales before joining the stag of his college coach Larry Eustachy seven years ago. Those sales skills have come in handy for Wilson, who stresses defense and rebounding.
More importantly, the first-year head coach believes everyone in the BRCC program is where they’re supposed to be.
“I had other opportunities, but none were like this one,” Wilson said. “To be in this town with LSU and the proximity to Louisiana players … it’s a great fit.”