Camels building on success, preparing for next level

Atkins boys’ head basketball coach Marlon Brim is gearing his team up for another playoff run later this season.

Camels building on success, preparing for next level
December 08
14:27 2021

It’s a new year with new beginnings for the Atkins boys’ basketball team. After a successful spring campaign that saw the Camels capture the Western Piedmont 2A conference championship and a nice playoff run, they will now move up the ladder to 3A and hope to maintain the level of success that head coach Marlon Brim has set for Atkins.

Brim says his team is ready to jump to the 3A level and they put in a lot of work over the summer to prepare for the season. While his team may be kind of young, he says they will be prepared for the level of competition the new conference will bring.

“We did strength and conditioning, we did a week of team camp, and then we did a whole summer of skill development and playing and getting to know each other as a new group,” said Brim. “We have some seniors and we also have some young freshmen and sophomores that had to get acclimated to varsity basketball.”

According to Brim, the loss to Hendersonville in last year’s playoffs was a tough one, losing 88-82 in a hard-fought game. Even in the losses, Brim feels there are lessons to be learned and his Camels learned a valuable one last year.

“I think what we learned is we have to be more consistent,” he said. “We have to play better as a team and defensively, we have to do what we need to do to make a deep run in the playoffs and make a run in the conference.

“We have been preaching that all summer, that we win games with defense and sharing the basketball and being a team. That’s how you become a good team with those things right there.”

There are a few guys Brim is expecting to step up this season to fill the void from the seniors who graduated in May. Players like Cameron McDonald, Josh Durham, Chris Redd Jr. and Rasheed Sims are all seniors who will be leaders for the Camels, said Brim.

“Those three right there, senior wise, are going to leave a hole for us to fill next year,” said Brim.

Brim has been at the helm for seven seasons as the head coach at Atkins. He has turned a non-existent program into one of the more consistent ones in the area.  

“I credit the kids for buying into what we want to do as a staff and as a program,” he said. “Most of the kids that we get have seen us play before, so we kind of get those kids who can do both academics and can play basketball.

“A lot of kids want the chance to come in and play and here we have started freshmen since my first year here if you were good enough, so I think kids see an opportunity and they like the style we play. Now playing in the 3A conference, which is one of the best conferences in the state, that is also an advantage that you are playing against talent every night.”

Playing against the likes of Dudley, Ben L. Smith, High Point Central, Rockingham Central, and others every night during conference is something Brim and his players are excited about.

“It’s going to be tough, but we have to prepare our players for games on the road and at home, because night in and night out you are going to play against competition that you could win or you could lose,” he said about the conference. “So we have to come in with the mindset of being ready mentally and physically to go through this conference. And even our non-conference schedule is tough.”

Brim says he likes to schedule most of his non-conference games against opponents from different areas, because he knows between the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic and conference play, he will see many of the local teams several times throughout the season.

“We try to play different teams that we don’t see in the area,” he said about scheduling. “We try to get kids out of Winston, that way they can see what different basketball looks like.

“We want to try and play some teams in the city, but playing in the Frank Spencer, you know you’re going to play some teams at least twice and sometimes you may play them a third time if you schedule them as a regular season opponent. We want to kind of broaden our games and travel a little bit more to play against teams we don’t get to see.”

The Camels are 2-1 on the season at the time this article was written. Thus far, Brim is pleased with some things, but knows they must improve to achieve their goals this season.

“What I like is how hard we play, how we share the ball, and we play as a team,” he said about what he likes about his team this year. “Some of the things we need to work on is keeping the same energy we start the game with, our communication and defensive rotation has to get better, and overall I think we will be okay once we get those things down to a good consistency.”

If things fall into place and his guys buy into what he and the coaching staff are trying to teach, Brim feels this team has it in them to go far.

“I think a deep playoff run like we did last year,” Brim said when asked what the ceiling for this team was. “That has been our goal, to win another conference championship and make a deeper run into the state playoff and continue to put Atkins’ name out there as one of the basketball programs that has been good for the last five or six years.”

A Frank Spencer tournament championship brings along tremendous bragging rights for the winner of their respective bracket. Brim has yet to win one as a head coach, but says that is a goal for his players.

“We want to win one,” he said. “I haven’t won a Frank Spencer, besides when I was an assistant at Parkland. We have been close like we got to the semifinals two years ago, I believe. Getting a Frank Spencer championship will bring some bragging rights that we can have to the city, so that is something this group wants to have, but it’s going to be a tough road.

“It doesn’t matter what bracket we are in, we know it’s going to be some great teams we are going to have to play and beat to get to that championship. We want that Frank Spencer banner in our gym, but we know it’s going to come with hard work, sweat and tears to get it.”

Bringing a championship to Atkins is a big deal for Brim, not only for his team, but also for what the Atkins name represents.

“That would be the icing on the cake really and big, just to see the program move forward,” Brim said about winning a championship. “It’s all about academics and that’s what the old Atkins used to be in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, about high academic standards.

“Even though we are a new school, we still carry some of the old standards. My dad graduated from Atkins and growing up watching Atkins when it was a 9/10 school and Mr. Piggott was the coach and seeing those athletes come through. 

“I try to tell those guys about the history of Atkins, the school, and how many players that have come out of here that have been great.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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