Little Rock Southwest boys basketball aims to build foundation, establish culture in inaugural season

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 Little Rock Southwest Gryphons boys.  

LITTLE ROCK SOUTHWEST TEAM PAGE | 2020-21 SCHEDULE

HEAD COACH

Chris Threatt, first season

2019-20 AT A GLANCE

Overall record: 0-0 

ALL-STATE PLAYERS DEPARTED

None

PLAYERS TO WATCH

G Kamal Polite, sr., 6-2

Polite has varsity experience from his time at Fair High School and is a capable all-around offensive player. While he’s mostly been a streaky shooter so far for the Gryphons, Threatt believes Polite can become a consistent threat from long range. “We’re going to need him to score on a team that doesn’t have a lot of scoring,” the coach added. “He’s going to play some point guard for us and provide some veteran leadership.” 

G Kendrick Ester, sr., 5-6

Ester previously played for McClellan as an undersized point guard with excellent quickness. He is a high-energy player who can score in bursts. “He’s a guy that can get streaky,” Threatt said. “Remember Vernon Maxwell? He’d be phenomenal for both teams in the same game! Kendrick can get hot, but it’s a matter of counting on it.” 

F Emir Siddiq, jr., 6-3

Siddiq is a big-bodied small forward who played running back for the Southwest Little Rock football team. “He’s arguably the most athletic kid we have playing right now,” Threatt said. “He’s a well put-together athlete that we need to provide athleticism.” 

OUTLOOK

Threatt, who spent the previous 18 seasons at McClellan and won two state championships, knew it wouldn’t be easy to build a program at brand-new Southwest Little Rock High School. The COVID-19 pandemic has made that task even more difficult.

“It’s definitely been harder than I thought it would be. Not complaining at all, but it’s been hard,” said Threatt, who noted that a typical summer would have been filled with open gyms and team camps that are invaluable for a start-up program.

“So, we didn’t get to do any of that and I’m still really learning the kids, not their names, but what they do and don’t do well and how to improve their games.”

Threatt listed physical strength as one of the Gryphons’ biggest weaknesses. The team has a first-rate training facility, and Threatt wants to see the players take advantage of it.

Southwest also is light on players who can create shots for others.

“We have OK shooters, but I don’t think right now anybody is making the game easier for everybody else,” Threatt said. “We don’t have that ‘problem’ guy yet.” 

In a conference with some of the state’s top teams, Southwest is going to have its hands full on a nightly basis. Threatt isn’t expecting a conference title anytime soon, but he hopes to pick off a few wins during the Gryphons’ inaugural season.

“I know it’s going to sound like coach talk, but we want to establish a team culture,” he said. “Things you take for granted being in place with a bunch of older guys, we are still establishing team norms.”

COACH SAID 

“I always say that football is a collision sport, but basketball is a contact sport. You’ve got to be strong enough to hold your line and be physical in the interiors, and we’re not strong enough yet.” — Chris Threatt

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