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New faces in CCA lineup

“We have a bunch of new guys who are working together for the first time, and we’re expecting some really exciting things to happen this season.”

CCA head basketball coach Michael Malpass can’t help but be excited about his new lineup this season as he welcomes back some familiar faces to the Cougar bench and has added some new faces as well.

Since CCA is an I 20 or F1 school through the federal government, they are allowed to recruit students from abroad.

And that’s exactly what Malpass did when he brought in 6’8” junior Jelle Vermeyan from Belgium and senior point guard Eric Van Beek from the Netherlands.

Senior starters Jake Page, who is from McKenzie, and Davis Layton of Luverne, are looking forward to the possibilities of this season with this new lineup.

“We’ve got good athletes on the team—players who really care about the game and the team as a whole,” Page said. “I feel like we’ve got a better chance of winning this year.”

Layton agreed.

“There’s more depth on the bench,” he said. “Last year, we only had about 7 or 8, and now, we’ve got more to pull from.”

Junior Jake Hattaway, who is from Kinston, is in his second year at CCA.

“We’ve got two new players that are going to help us a lot,” he said. “We’ve got more size, too. Last year, I got a whole lot of defensive attention, but this year, I’ve got a lot of help.”

The 17-year-old Belgium native has played basketball since he was 8 years old, and at 6’8”, he says he’s still growing.

“I was a power forward at my former school,” Vermeyan said. “I’ll be playing center and power forward here.”

“I think we have a good opportunity to go to state,” he added.

Van Beek agrees with Vermeyan.

“I think I can lead this team to a state championship, but we’ll have to do it as a unit,” he said. “If everyone does his job correctly, we can definitely win it.”

And what about the differences between Alabama and their homelands?

“I came from a 6A school, so things are much more on a personal level here, and everybody helps you,” Vermeyan said. “Sports are everything here though, and not so much in Belgium.”

“And don’t forget the language,” Van Beek added, grinning.