New era begins for Flagler College men’s basketball

It’s been 30 seasons since Flagler College had a head men’s basketball coach not named Bo Clark.

 

The Chad Warner era begins tonight as the Saints open the 2017-18 season with a home game at Flagler Gymnasium against Shorter College.

Adding intrigue to the event, Warner was Shorter’s head coach for eight seasons (2007-15) and is the winningest coach in the Rome, Georgia school’s history with 156 victories.

“I’m excited about playing them, but I’m glad to be at Flagler,” said Warner, who was hired on April 1.

Warner won’t be the only person on the Flagler bench with connections to the other team tonight. Assistant coach Blake Selland was a player (2011-15) with Shorter under Warner and an assistant coach there the past two seasons.

Guard Damerit Brown transferred to the Saints from Shorter, where he averaged 11.1 points last season as a freshman.

“We’re excited because it’s our first game,” Warner said. “Certainly there’s a connection to that school for some of us, but everyone wants to get off to a good start. I know Damerit wants to do that as well as the rest of these guys.”

Clark retired after coaching the Saints for 31 seasons (1982-84, 1988-2017). Eight players return from Clark’s final team, including the top six scorers.

Not only do the returnees have familiarity with each other, but Brown and Vaughn McCall, who led the Saints in scoring last season with 17.2 points per game, were high school teammates at Ocoee.

McCall, who shot 39 percent from the 3-point line (65 for 166) as a sophomore, could play some point guard this year, along with Brown and returning starter Ben Bobbitt (8.3 points, 3.1 assists). Front-court starters Cortlin Davis (16.5 points, 6.6 rebounds), Chris Williams (10.5 points, 9.8 rebounds) and Jeffercy Jean (14.5 points, 6.8 rebounds) all return, as does Arnas Dautartats, a 6-6 forward from Lithuania, who joined the team last year in mid-season.

The 6-foot-7 Williams was the Saints’ tallest player last year. This year he should get help in the post from 6-8 Phil Bruce, a junior transfer from Florida State College at Jacksonville, and a pair of 6-7 underclassmen — Chris Metzger and Connor Jack — who missed last season with injuries.

Senior Austin Howard and freshman Sam Guenther from Nease High will provide depth in the backcourt.

“I think we have pretty good athleticism,” Warner said. “We have to continue learning how to rebound the ball and get stops consistently, and we’re going to have to take care of the ball.

“We’re excited to get out there and play for this city and play for this school. We want to honor coach Bo with the way we play, and we want to honor the administration with the way we play. It’s been a long time coming for us. We’re looking forward to it.”

Season Opener

Who: Shorter College at Flagler College

Where: Flagler Gymnasium

Tipoff: 7:30 p.m.

Admission: Free for St. Johns County residents

 

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