With Jonesboro High hero Desi Sills transferring to Kansas State, the Red Wolves mass exodus is complete (Lazar Grbović’s status notwithstanding). Replacing four starters – including SBC Player of the Year Norchad Omier – are six newcomers each bearing his own special levels of intrigue.
Mak Manciel, for example, is a 1st Team NJCAA All-American. Allaaedine Boutayeb is a 7’2″ transfer from Florida State. Terrance Ford averaged 32 points per game in prep school and Izayiah Nelson is a 6’9″ shot blocker. Detick Reeves tallied more than 2,500 points for Marion High School and Omar El-Sheikh is from Egypt. Surely, one of those guys will give us something to talk about come November.
While many of us will be evaluating the new guys, the keys to the gym now belong to the program’s last remaining starter – 6’0″ junior guard Caleb Fields, who averaged 10 points and three boards in 2021-22. Fields, branded marketably by hair combed with dynamite and a body that absorbs prolific pounding in the paint, finds himself the Man with the Most Minutes.
Fields isn’t alone. Junior forward Antwon Jackson is back to bully the boards, and senior forward/guard hybrid Markise Davis has one more shot at becoming a reliable burst of scoring. Outside shooting can only improve from Avery Felts and Malcolm Farrington, and redshirt freshman Caleb London is thought to be healthy. His return provides more offensive options.
These guys, when playing at their best, are fine pieces. Without having to share hardwood with Marquis Eaton, Fields now has an opportunity to lead unilaterally. We’ve seen plenty of Fields in action. We know he’s willing to sacrifice his body (and his vertebrae) by powering towards the bucket. We know he can nail a big three when called upon. But can he consistently dish and dime? Can he be counted on to beat the press? Most importantly, can he elevate the guys around him?
Head Coach Mike Balado will need to lean heavy on whatever leadership Fields supplies. These guys are so new to Jonesboro that they’re soliciting Twitter for tattoo parlors and museums. Gelling on the court by November is a big ask. To get all these guys on the same page, Fields will need to rise to a new level.
Photo Credit: Supplied by UTA and Arkansas State Athletics