Sunday, September 27, 2015

West Oaks' Maitre Content To Stay Put

Richardson Maitre wasn't supposed to be here. He wasn't supposed to be sitting in the chapel at West Oaks Academy in Orlando, discussing the prospect of a back-to-back SIAA championship. Word around the campfire had it, he was Jacksonville-bound. Not back in Orlando, discussing the interchangeable, versatility-fueled backcourt tandem he and South Florida-commit Andres Feliz present.

The 6-foot-2 defensive-minded guard, who shined at a number of top-tier showcases during the summer of 2015, was projected to be out the door.

You see, as all signs would indicate, Maitre was headed to Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville with Shaun Wiseman.

Wiseman fled to perennially-potent ACD to sustain the lasting legacy of Rex Morgan, who has been fighting throat cancer.

He took 7-foot-3 Class of 2019 center Chol Marial--he of the 7-foot-11 wingspan, fleet of foot, and national notoriety--with him. Also transitioning from West Oaks to ACD is Koch Bar, a menacing 6-foot-9 shotblocker whose balanced all-around game landed him a scholarship to Bradley.

Partly at his desire to lead a young and unproven core, partly at the tight-knit basketball culture at West Oaks, Maitre opted to stay put. Following a commendable performance for Team Africa in the Adidas Nations games, Maitre expects West Oaks to stake its claim as the hunted ones in Orlando.

While the loss of the two bigs creates a gap, the real challenge is filling the void left by Corey Sanders. Sanders, the hyper-athletic guard blessed with a toolbox of flashy moves, is now at Rutgers. You'd be hard-pressed to find a guard in the country with a higher motor than Sanders.

Losing so much luster, however, he understands people are anticipating a downtrodden season. That's only sparked a mountain of motivation in the soft-spoken guard, who has budding mid-major interest.

Maitre On His Leadership Role

I think with the losses we have, with a great player like Corey Sanders leaving, it will allow us to become leaders. We have a young team.

 As a state champ, we have defend our title. We have to lead the team in scoring. We have to lead the team vocally, on defense. We need to teach the young guys who come in and make them understand they are part of a legacy here at West Oaks.

On Eyeing A Repeat

We are our brother's keepers. We all watch out of each other. With coach (Kenny) Gilliam, coach Harold, and coach Neal, we're going to be able to accomplish the goal of another state title. They are here when nobody is watching. They're back in the gym working, making sure we are winners.

That's everybody's goal. Everybody wants to win. Winning the state championship last year, it put us on the map in the city in Orlando. So, everybody wants to come at us. We have to be ready to defend this.

On His Options

I actually visited UTEP and Cleveland State. I still have three more official visits to go on. I truly believe in my talents. I believe I can improve this year and with the help from coach Gilliam, coach Harold, and Coach (Diana) Neal I can get more interest. 

As I see myself, I think I can ultimately play higher than mid-major. That's my goal. If I had to choose today, it would be Cleveland State. I still have to wait a little bit and see if I can reach any higher-level interest. I'm always looking to get better everyday and that's the only thing you can ask for.