After going 23-5 in his first season as coach at Concord High, Jason Stowe saw his team dip to 10-16 last season.
He doesn’t expect another down year at a school with a rich history of winning and state championships.
“We don’t have any choice but to improve,” Stowe said Thursday. “This is my third year and all the players I have came in with me and know exactly what I expect. And they like each other. They spent a lot of time with each other.”
Concord only has one senior, Ismail Hooker, so Stowe will depend on a nucleus of juniors - and 6-foot-6 sophomore wing Jackson Threadgill. Threadgill averaged eight points, three rebounds and three assists last season, but Stowe is expecting him to have a breakout season.
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Threadgill is ranked No. 15 in North Carolina in the class of 2020 by Phenom Hoop Report, which tracks the state closely. He is being recruited heavily by Davidson and Liberty, Stowe said, and he’s had interest from Boston University, Maryland, Navy, Santa Clara, Tennessee and Wake Forest.
“He’s gotten a lot stronger over the summer,” Stowe said. “He’s a 160 pounds now, but once he can get to 175, 180 he’ll be good. His IQ is high and he’s highly skilled and he’s more athletic than people think.
“Last weekend (at a scrimmage), he dunked on somebody. Just because he’s a sophomore doesn’t matter. He’s our best player and we need him to be a leader.”
Threadgill will have lots of help. Junior 6-5 forward Jaylen O’Neal and 6-3 junior point guard Jordan Stowe -- the coaches’ son -- bring size and experience. Stowe said he’s counting on O’Neal, who averaged 12 points and seven rebounds last season, and Threadgill to lead the Spiders in scoring this year.
Threadgill said he’s more than up to the task.
“I believe in my abilities,” he said. “I’m a scorer and I like to score, and I believe we can (bounce back from the losing record last season). I think we’ve got a good group of guys to do it.
“We have good chemistry and we work hard in practice, and I feel we’ll be able to compete with the better teams in the conference.’