Over the next few weeks, SBLive Arkansas will break down every 6A boys and girls basketball team in the state entering the 2020-21 season. Here’s our look at the Cabot Panthers boys.
Logan Bailey, first season
2019-20 AT A GLANCE
Overall record: 18-11
Conference record: 7-7 (sixth place in 6A Central)
Playoffs: Lost in quarterfinals
ALL-STATE PLAYERS DEPARTED
PLAYERS TO WATCH
G Brayden Roberts, sr., 6-2
Roberts is the lone returning rotation player for the Panthers, and he’s getting a late start to basketball after helping lead Cabot’s football team to the state semifinals. “He’s probably our best shooter and he hasn’t been in the gym, so that’s exciting for us,” Bailey said. “He’s a smart kid, not a stellar athlete, but he’s crafty and strong and shoots the ball really well.”
G Van Ezell, sr., 6-3
Ezell is a sturdy 215-pound guard who regularly defends the opposing team’s main interior threat. He didn’t play as a junior because of a knee injury and scored 23 points in the team’s season-opening loss to West Memphis. “He just does a lot for us,” Bailey said. “He’s versatile, can guard 2 through 5. He handles, shoots, gets to the basket and posts up. I’m really excited about him.”
G Garrett Hill, sr., 6-1
Hill played sparingly on varsity a season ago and is a defensive tone-setter for the Panthers. “He’s a really quick guard, a really good athlete, and can get hot shooting it,” Bailey said. “We’re expecting him to have some pretty big games.”
G Gavin Muse, so., 6-2
Muse is a promising sophomore who has been a standout in practice. His older brother, Jackson, was the team’s starting point guard last season. “Gavin hasn’t had a good game yet, but we can tell the future is bright for him,” Bailey said. “He’s probably our best athlete, shoots it really well and has a good feel for the game.”
It was an unusual 2019-20 season for the Panthers, who promoted Bailey to interim head coach following Chris Meseke’s resignation in January. Cabot played .500 basketball down the stretch to qualify for the state tournament and knocked off Rogers 42-41 in the first round before falling to Northside in the quarterfinals.
Seven of the Panthers’ eight rotation players have moved on, leaving Bailey with plenty of holes to fill in his first season as head coach.
While light on varsity experience, Cabot does have six seniors on the roster who have been through battles in practice.
“As the season goes on and they get experience, I think they will learn a bit quicker,” Bailey said. “I think our best basketball will be at the end of the year, and that’s exciting. Our guys have bought-in to this part of the season being a learning process, and they have a big-picture mindset and that’s really nice to see as a coach.”
The Panthers don’t have a true post player and primarily play five-out on offense. Rebounding could be an issue against the 6A Central’s larger teams, but Bailey likes the way his players compete on both ends of the court.
“We’re tinkering with some things. We’re little, but we fight,” Bailey said. “I’ve been really impressed with how hard we play.”
With so many new faces, Cabot will be hard-pressed to match last season’s win total of 18. Bailey said the team’s main goal is to qualify for the state tournament and hope for some magic.
“We believe with how good this classification is, if you make the state tournament, you’re in pretty good shape,” the coach said. “And with March basketball, you know anything can happen. We want to get there and have a chance and see how it all falls.”
“At Cabot there’s a history of tough guys who play hard, and that’s been really cool for me to see. We play hard, and hopefully we’re going to start shooting it better. I’m ready for that to come in the games. I think we’re going to shoot well, play hard and make things really hard on defense.” — Logan Bailey