The start of the high school basketball season is just a few days away and expectations are high this season at Asheville Christian Academy. Head boys coach, Andy Ray, begins his 17th season directing the Lions basketball program and is blessed with an overflow of talent.
“This might be the most talented team we’ve had at ACA in quite some time,” said Ray. “We’ve always been blessed with some really good players but our depth is what stands out this season.”
The Lions boast a huge front line with 6’9” Justin Tene and 6’10” Elochukwu Eze. Tene, who hails from Senegal, and Eze, who is originally from Nigeria, are both bruising big men with strong low post games. 6’5” Max Spurling will start in the small forward role and provide a solid inside out presence. Spurling was the second leading scorer for the Lions last year and brings terrific shooting from three-point range and an athleticism in the open floor. 6’5” Sophomore Ethan Hefner will round out the front court. Hefner is the most athletic player on this year’s team and will be above the rim often this season in transition.
ACA is also blessed with talented guard play. Caleb Mills returns to the Lions backcourt after averaging 17 points a game as a sophomore a season ago. He will be joined by three transfers who will bolster the backcourt rotation. Raishaun Brown, Tyler McKinney and Jalen Crawford give the Lions tremendous depth. “We really have seven guys on this year’s roster that would start on most teams in the state,” said Ray. Senior Jaime Calvo and sophomore Isaac Wenzl are also both in the mix to provide key minutes for the Lion backcourt this season and both played effectively in recent scrimmage games.
The Lions might be big, talented and experienced but that doesn’t mean they will roll through their season. After an extremely difficult schedule last year the Lions have notched things up yet again. ACA will be playing a national schedule against some of the best teams and players in the country.
Games against Spartanburg Day School and future NBA lottery pick Zion Williamson, tilts against a deep and loaded Christ School team and a home contest against a super talented and nationally rated Greensboro Day team highlight the schedule. Even beyond those games the schedule is packed with top tiered teams and high level players.
To track the Lions this season be sure to follow the ACA twitter handle @ACAathletics and the ACA Maxpreps page.
By Jonathan Bennett