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PREP BASKETBALL: Wolves get into start of something new

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Basketball season may be five months away, but there’s no time like the present for Rome High’s boys’ team and the new situation in which it finds itself.

The departure of veteran basketball coach Milt Travis in April led to the search for new staff members to lead the Wolves, and the first part of that has come in the form of two former head coaches who have already jumped into things.

Tim Slater and Levon Grant have assumed their new roles as assistant coaches with Rome’s basketball program in the past month, learning the players, finding out who they are and seeing how they compete in a summer league at the school.

It’s one of the first steps the team wants to take in turning the program into a playoff contender.

“The first few weeks here have been sensational,” Slater said. “People around the school have just been so hospitable and welcoming, and I think they’re really hungry for a basketball program they can be proud of.”

Slater comes to Rome from Johnson high school in Gainesville, where he coached the Knights’ basketball team the past two seasons. Before that, he spent two seasons as an assistant at Buford where he worked under coach Allen Whitehead.

Grant, meanwhile, spent the last three seasons as head coach at Irwin County in South Georgia. He led the Indians to a spot in the playoffs two of the past three seasons, including this past year when his team won 10 games in Region 2-A.

While Grant and Slater have never worked together before, they knew each other after years of coaching in Georgia’s high school ranks. So far the biggest thing the two coaches have worked on with the team is fundamentals and making sure the team is mentally tough for the season.

“Right now, it’s just about working on our team chemistry, working on a winning mindset and competitive spirit,” Slater said. “There is plenty of great coaching on this staff already, and we know we have the players and the talent.”

Slater, Grant and other coaches will take part in instructing a younger generation of players Saturday at the 2017 Rome Hoops Phi Basketball Camp. The camp’s purpose is to instruct campers with a better understanding of how to improve their game.

The camp runs from 9 a.m. to noon at the high school, with campers expected to arrive at the gym at 8:45 a.m. The entry fee is a donation of any kind of school supplies instead of a monetary fee.

“All we are asking for is some kind of donation of school supplies,” Slater said. “Bring in a folder or some pencils, and we will redistribute that to our kids in need. So we are giving away some free fundamentals with a couple great head coaches for kids in the community.”