After suffering a fifth consecutive losing season, Wetumpka decided to make a change at the top of its boys basketball program. Former junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant Byron Gaskin has taken charge and is already looking at a smooth transition into the new job.
“I definitely think being an assistant and knowing a lot of the players helps,” Gaskin said. “I’ve coached a lot of those kids at the junior varsity level too.”
Gaskin has been with Wetumpka for two full seasons, leading the JV team while also being an assistant coach for the football team. The Indians had just two players from last year’s roster graduate and Gaskin is already familiar with the strengths of the underclassmen.
“We are still very young but we definitely have a lot of young talent on this team,” Gaskin said. “We want to make sure these guys develop the way they’re supposed to so we can make some noise once the playoffs get there.”
While he feels like the skill is there, Gaskin understands there will be steps to getting the program to the level he wants to see it. However, he also said he believes Wetumpka is a lot closer to that level of play than most people think.
“It’s all a process,” Gaskin said. “My expectations are not going to change because that’s just who I am. I expect to compete and win every night. I’m going to have to put some extra pressure on the older guys to lead and put some pressure on the younger guys too because I expect everyone to contribute.”
Wetumpka struggled last season to find its identity, playing different styles of play throughout the year. However, Gaskin wants to make that a focus for the Indians before the season even begins and it starts during the summer workouts.
“I’d like to see us become a more physical basketball team,” Gaskin said. “I want to see us improve on the things we already do well and just play with more physicality. But that will come with a lot of hard work in the weight room and pushing it on the court.”
Gaskin said he thinks his players will have no problems adjusting to his style of play but he wants them to focus on the strengths they have. He mentioned speed and agility as two of the biggest positives he saw from the Indians last season.
“We’re going to be a very quick team,” Gaskin said. “We don’t have a lot of size on our side so to play that physical style of basketball, we’ll have to make up for it with our speed and by playing hard-nosed defense.”
Gaskin will look to return the Indians to the sub-state tournament, which they made two seasons ago. Wetumpka has not won an area championship since 2014.