The Absegami High School boys basketball team has a large class of seniors that coach Mike Bult feels will be a big part of its season.
The Braves must replace graduated players Jaleel Christmon and Vladimir Shustov (New Jersey Institute of Technology). But a group of six seniors will see significant playing time.
"We have a good group of guys through the program, some returning varsity players," Bult said. "We're just excited for the fact that this year we can go a little bit deeper into the bench."
Abdul Anderson is the top returning starter.
"We're looking for him to continue to step up with his experience and lead the team," Bult said about the 6-foot-4 guard, who recently committed to Bucknell for football.
Manny Ruiz, the Braves' tallest player at 6-foot-6, returns after missing his junior season with a torn ACL.
Matt Fetske, Justin Borders and Cameron Johnson played varsity minutes last season.
"The experience that they bring will be extremely helpful, and leadership-wise they've just been bringing it every day at practice," Bult said. "I'm so proud of these seniors stepping up and leading the way."
Vinnie Nelson got a lot of playing time as a freshman last season.
Bult thinks Janir Vega, a 6-foot freshman, will have the opportunity to have an impact.
Contact John Russo:
League: Cape-Atlantic League American
Group: South Jersey Group IV
Coach: Mike Bult (34-35, three seasons)
2012-13 record: 11-12
2013-14 prediction: Spoiler - The Braves are loaded with experienced seniors.
Key players: Abdul Anderson Sr., 6-4, F; Manny Ruiz Sr., 6-6, C; Justin Borders Sr., 5-8, G; Matt Fetske Sr., 6-3, G; Cameron Johnson Sr., 6-1, F; Rob Dowe Sr., 6-0, F; Vinnie Nelson So., 5-8, G; Stephen Ferebee So., 6-4, F; Janir Vega Fr., 6-0, G.