Program Spotlight – Buckeye Hawks

by Justin Vargas | Posted on Monday, January 1st, 2018

For those of you that don’t know about a team in about as far West as you can go in the West Valley - the Buckeye Hawks.  You might want to treat yourself and start to look them up.  Coached by Randy Bland, the team is led by two Division-I prospects in 6-foot-5 junior wing Otis Frazier and 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Tay Boothman.

Buckeye has started out 11-0 against in-state competition and have been doing it with some swag and flair.  They are quick, they are athletic, they can score, and they play with a tempo very few Arizona programs play with.  They will take it to you and they will let you know about it.  They are confident and even a little brash.  They have fun, they laugh, they joke, and they are serious about their W’s.

As a player, Coach Bland was the 2001 San Diego High School Player of the Year.  At the junior college level, he was a 2-time offensive MVP.  He would move on to play two-years at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  He uses his playing experiences in coaching this young and talented team of his.  He understands that players like his enjoy playing an up-tempo style of play, and they like putting up big numbers on the scoreboard.  As a player he hated being restricted and put into systems where you don’t have the freedom to play your game and be at your best.

He says of his system and program, “I want them proactive instead of reacting.  Players enjoy and flourish under our program, because of the freedom they are given.  It helps build confidence and a certain swag you need to have on the court.”

The fact that he understands what many coaches in the state of Arizona don’t, makes me rave even more about their program.  Not only is he focused on racking up wins in this season, he is in tune with the college recruitment of the kids that have a chance to play at the next level.  He understands the style of play will only help their exposure and recruitment.  He will talk to the college coaches and give them a fair assessment, while still having his guys backs.

The two players that will benefit from that right now are the before-mentioned Frazier and Boothman, and their beloved coach can go on and on about his two leaders.

“They are competitive and driven," said Bland.  "They are explosive and can score.  They have an ability to dominate the game on both ends and have the ability to lead by example.  They are tough and have the humbled cockiness you need to compete at the next level.”

The Hawks traveled to Las Vegas to compete against some top out-of-state competition to prepare them for the final season stretch and the 4A State Playoffs.  Though they came out of those games in the loss column, they were competitive in every game.  Coach Bland sites his team for having to maintain their intensity for the entire game, and not having the mental lapses that don’t allow you to make the plays at the end of a game to win the close ones.  They will no doubt have to work on those things, as they have their biggest test of the year when they travel to play the 8th-ranked team in America, as they go nose-to-nose with Shadow Mountain to play the Matadors on the road.

“Shadow is very talented, and you can't key on one player which makes them dangerous," said Bland.  "They all can go off and erupt for 30 anytime, and they play so unselfish - which is tough to beat.”

That game is sure to be lit to the max, as Buckeye will hope to play David in that Goliath story, and hand Shadow Mountain their first loss of the season.  Arizona Preps will no doubt be in attendance for that contest.  February 1st can not come fast enough!

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