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The Register

The student news website of Omaha Central High School

The Register

The student news website of Omaha Central High School

The Register

Freshmen on varsity boys’ basketball ready to build for the future

While they might not get much playing time, freshmen James Mullins, Evan Rodgers and AJ Nichols are preparing to lead Central’s varsity boys’ basketball team into the future.  

As the lone freshmen on the squad, they are using this year to learn and understand the game well while testing their skills on and off the court.  

“We are building the strength of the program for years to come,” said Head Coach Bruce Chubick on the importance of having freshmen on varsity. He believes the team will thrive by getting younger guys experience and training them for their future years with the program. 

Mullins, a shooting guard; Rodgers, a point guard; and Nichols, also a point guard, all believe that being on varsity this season will benefit their future.  

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Mullins said he has been able to keep up his strengths and improve on his weaknesses, thanks in part to the guidance from others on the team and the coaching staff. “It’s helped me so much,” he said. 

Rodgers said it was helpful to be more experienced down the line in high school and handle tough situations. He has four assists so far this season, higher than some upperclassmen. He said he has had the opportunity to learn the “ins and outs of high school basketball,” bettering him for the future.  

He believes this year is his time to become a strong communicator and be effective on defense.  

“This season is setting the bar higher and pushing me to keep going while never getting complacent,” Nichols said.  

All three, however, mentioned the team’s strong bond and chemistry as the strongest benefit for the future. Mullins, Rodgers, and Nichols have known each other for a few years playing together on TNE, a club basketball team. The other guys on the team helped them.  

“I can trust all my teammates and when I mess up, I know they got my back to help me out,” Rodgers said. Mullins said everyone is nice and helpful. Nichols said he “already has a connection” to everyone on the team and that it has helped tremendously.  

The freshmen also add to the chemistry of team, Chubick said. “They all bring a little something different to the table,” he said, regarding both a social and a professional aspect. He explained that the diversity of abilities contributes to a robust team that can do lots of different things on the court, which is why he picked the three that he did.  

This season does not come without challenges though. The freshmen have entered a new environment, one unlike middle school or club basketball.  

“At first it was noticeable how much quicker it was. I had to adjust,” Mullins said.  

“It was a big jump, but I’ve gotten used to it,” Rodgers said.  

Nichols said it was not a big adjustment for him personally. “I’m used to playing at a very high level.”  

 Chubick believed each player’s physical development can also be a significant challenge. “Some players are very physically mature at 14 or 15 years of age, while others may not be physically mature until late in high school or even early college years,” he said. “Patience is important when adjusting.” 

No matter the challenges, Chubick and his coaching staff are always doing their best to help the freshmen and all players succeed. “I think the biggest help the coaches can provide is to be clear about things we are correcting and why we are doing so, as well as encouraging the good things that they are doing,” he said. Chubick’s goal is also to instill confidence in each player, which he said is critical to showing the freshmen that they are there for a reason.  

As for personal goals, all three want to be a starter in at least one game this season. 

Mullins said, “I want to play a part in the team’s success.” He described that he could do that by scoring in a game, putting in strong effort at practices, and improving his defense. 

“I want to be a productive and effective player on the team, as well as make Central a top tier team again,” Rodgers said. He wants to make Central’s alumni proud, better handle the ball and play stronger defense.  

Nichols just wants to be a starter in one game this year, as with Mullins and Nichols, but he said it would not be too bad if he could get 20 steals by the end of the season while he’s at it. As of December 10, he is at one.  

The track record of being a freshman on Central’s varsity to have success in the future is strong. Tra-Deon Hollins, an NBA G League player; Treshawn Thurman, a professional player in Lithuania; and Akoy Agau, a former forward for the University of Louisville Cardinals, all played on varsity as freshmen.  

Despite a good track record, Chubick urges caution. “I think the future for them all will be very bright, but it probably won’t come overnight.  It will be a process and they will need to be patient and be prepared to earn their opportunities and then take advantage of those opportunities when they’re presented,” he said.   

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Steven Dickerson, Staff Writer
Hi, my name is Steven Dickerson (he/him). I am a sophomore and this is my first year on The Register. I was voted most likely to go blonde. A fun fact about me is that I am a big pasta salad fan.
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