Boys Basketball: Familiar face helping Overland get back to rolling

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Since returning from a short stint at a prep school in Alaska, senior Padiet Wang (21) has given Overland another outstanding defender with athleticism and length, further bolstering the Trailblazers' roster for a shot at defending their Class 5A state championship. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)
Since returning from a short stint at a prep school in Alaska, senior Padiet Wang (21) has given Overland another outstanding defender with athleticism and length, further bolstering the Trailblazers’ roster for a shot at defending their Class 5A state championship. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

The Overland boys basketball team is getting the band back together and the Trailblazers have some familiar pieces in place for a shot at a second straight Class 5A state championship.

Senior guards Jervae Robinson and Tyler Stevenson returned to the Trailblazers before this season after spending last year at a prep school in Oklahoma and now Padiet Wang is back in the fold for coach Danny Fisher’s team after spending some time in Alaska.

While Robinson and Stevenson missed last season’s title run, Wang contributed as a starter and provided a spark. Now that he’s back, it feels just like old times to the 6-foot-5 swing player.

The length and athleticism of Padiet Wang (21) on the defensive end gives the Overland boys basketball team a lift for the second half of the season. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel) (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)
The length and athleticism of Padiet Wang (21) on the defensive end gives the Overland boys basketball team a lift for the second half of the season. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

“It’s real fun, I feel like I never left,” Wang said Jan. 20 after he recorded nine points and eight rebounds in the fourth-ranked Trailblazers’ 60-50 win over Cherry Creek.

“It still feels like a family and nothing really changed,” he added. “I’m just trying to bring something else to the table.”

As several Aurora players have done over the past few years — including Robinson and Stevenson, who went to OnPoint Hoops Academy in El Reno, Oklahoma, along with former Regis Jesuit star Josh Perkins, who played his senior year at Huntington Prep in West Virginia — Wang departed Overland after last season’s title for a different step in his basketball chapter.

He ended up at Eagle River Christian Prep in Fairbanks, Alaska, which doesn’t play against regular high school teams in Alaska, but travels all over to play similar prep schools. After just seven games, Eagle River ran out of money to travel and had to cancel its season.

Wang discovered that he could apply for a hardship in Colorado, which would allow him to return to his home school if approved. He got OK’d to return to start the new year.

It was a late Christmas present to Fisher, who noticed an immediate impact the first time Wang — whose length and athleticism is noticeable in every game — walked into the gym for practice.

“Padiet’s energy and athleticism offensively and defensively changes the game,” Fisher said. “There’s not many players, really in the state, like him and he’s still not settled in yet. What him and Alijah (Halliburton) bring in terms of raw effort on both ends of the floor, you can’t plan for. They are just guys that go hard all the time.”

In his first four games in the lineup — all wins for 12-2 Overland — Wang averaged 7.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest. He’s trying to put the lessons he learned in Alaska into practice.

“I was focused more on basketball, which helped me a lot,” Wang said. “The competition that we played really taught me that I need to play faster and stronger.”

Though he scored 32 points in a game with Eagle River, the Trailblazers don’t need Wang to be an offensive star.

They have several of those in De’Ron Davis (14.9 ppg), Robinson (13.9 ppg) and Halliburton (11.7 ppg), so Wang will be most valuable to them playing defense and contributing on the boards. Overland lost 6-6 Ryan Swan, who averaged 5.5 rebounds per game last season, and 6-5 reserve King Grant-Perry to graduation.

“The chemistry with Padiet is still there from last year, so we’re not really missing a beat,” Davis said. “It’s just like he went away for a little bit, but now that he’s back it just adds another piece to it.”

Wang’s return also helps mitigate things like the ankle injury sustained by senior Reggie Gibson, which kept him out of the Cherry Creek game.

Fisher is glad to be through the non-league portion of the season and hopes his team can get on a roll as it did last season going into the playoffs.

“We have a new group out there, but hopefully we’ll get in our rhythm now,” Fisher said. “We’ll have to because every Wednesday and Friday another league opponent is trying to punch you in the mouth.”

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel