Boys Basketball Season Preview
On December 2nd, Garfield Bulldogs Boys Basketball will open their year after a mostly successful 2021-22 season that ended abruptly early in the state tournament. Last year, the Bulldogs rolled into the mid-season Hardwood Invite undefeated, considered the 2nd best team in the state behind the Auburn Trojans, who they met in the Invite’s finals. Garfield won the game behind strong performances from Jaylin Stewart, Sherrell McCullum, and Koren Johnson, who won the tournament MVP. This solidified Garfield's place as the best in the state and they continued to stay undefeated rolling into the state tournament in Tacoma. Due to unfortunate seeding, they were forced to play Auburn in the 2nd round. The Trojans overcame a late 11-point deficit to send the game to overtime and eventually win. Garfield ended the season with a couple sound wins in the consolation bracket to finish 4th in the tournament with a 24-1 record and a ranking at 16th in the nation according to MaxPreps. Auburn won state, narrowly edging teams that Garfield beat soundly in prior meetings.
It is still too early to say if the dominant Bulldogs could be better than last year, but they will once again begin their season with the end in mind, a self-help standard that allows top teams to pace themselves mentally but mostly physically. Of course, this will require strong performances from many returning players as well as the new ones. Thankfully, the Bulldogs' strength should allow them to give many incoming players a chance to prove themselves and carve a role in the rotation. Garfield will start the year ranked 61st nationally by MaxPreps and hope to climb up that list throughout the season.
The team looks significantly different than last year as the team graduated many impactful seniors. Koren Johnson led the team averaging 15.1 PPG last year and is now playing at the University of Washington. Kenzell Massey, who transferred to Garfield for his senior year and did not start playing till the middle of the season, averaged nearly 10 PPG and was an impactful piece toward keeping the Bulldogs momentum down the stretch. Tremaine Guidrey, Raphiel (Poppy) Justice, and Jazel Brown were 5th, 6th, and 7th in points for the team and were excellent reserves, playing physically and feeding the guys up front with skillful passing. Garfield will be left with 5 returning players and an offseason transfer to go along with a handful of newcomers:
Jaylin Stewart: Jaylin Stewart heads into his season coming off a successful 2021-22 where he led the team in 3pt shooting and was 2nd in points per game. The 6’7’ small forward committed to UConn back in September. He is ranked as the best player in Washington state and 97th nationally by ESPN. Stewart won a championship as a freshman and will look to lead this team to another this year.
Sherrell McCullum: Sherell is a strong forward who is also going into his senior season. He led the team in boards and was 3rd in points last season. Sherrell currently has an offer from Portland State and will look to turn more heads this season. Emmett Marquardt: Marquardt, listed at 6’8”, is a forward with an impressive skillset and shooting ability. He has interest from many D1 squads. Emmett hopes to see more playing time and form a reputation as a respected starter.
Legend Smiley: As the only Freshman on the varsity roster last year, Smiley proved himself averaging 5.4 points per game off the bench and showed lots of promise. The guard is primed for his sophomore season with the team. He is seen as one of the better young players across the country. Sports Illustrated recently described him as “an all-round player who’s just beginning to catch everyone’s eye on the AAU national circuit.”
Yemoni Howell: Yemoni is going into his final season as a Bulldog. The 6’3” guard averaged close to 5 PPG off the bench last season and will look to play more of a role for the team this season.
Jamari Jackson: Jackson is a talented 6’1” guard who recently transferred from Franklin High School. Jackson will be playing in his senior season after a solid junior season with Franklin.
Rest of Team: The team is filled with fresh players in the likes of Myles Daymon, Nasyr Cornett, Darius Harvey, Sejhe Jackson, Jodarius Owens, Sammy Taylor, and Marcel Jones.
Head Coach: Garfield will also have a new head coach in Brandon Roy, who has coached the team in the past. Roy is a Garfield alum with years of experience both coaching and playing in the NBA. Brandon Roy was named rookie of the year in 2007 and was a 3-time all-star.
Overall, the Bulldogs look ready for this winter season, looking to find more success than last year as they attempt to defend their Hardwood Invite title and avenge themselves in the Dome. With a well-rounded roster with 3-point bombardments around Stewart and McCullum and a hard fighting defense, this may be the best chance for this prized program to take another one home.