BOULDER -- Given the team's losses to graduation, there might be those tempted to write off Fairview boys basketball this winter. But those naysayers might do well to review their history.
This is not the first time the Knights have entered the season light on returning starters. In fact, Knights coach Frank Lee reckons the past three years his team has entered the season with just a couple players who the year before had recorded significant minutes. And for those who have forgotten, in that spell Fairview has thrived.
The run has included two Front Range League titles, three state tournament appearances and an appearance in the Class 5A title game one year after losing nearly everyone from a state semifinal squad.
"That year we went undefeated and made the semis and only had (two players back)," Lee said. "So this is not an unusual thing for us."
Buoying the coach's and the rest of the Knights' spirits is how the program finished up last season. Pickings might be slim for Lee in returning starters, but not talent, with all four levels of Fairview basketball posting an incredible 2011-2012 season.
"We have been pretty solid. Last year I think we went 78-4 as a program," the coach said. "Our junior varsity went undefeated, we (the varsity) were the slackers with two losses."
Even with the Knights' ranks filled with ready and willing talent, the team will form around its single returning starter, though Brent Wrapp might have to augment his role on the team somewhat. A season ago, the guard was renowned for his ability to distribute the ball. The senior averaged 6.3 assists per game -- one of the best averages in the state -- but was far from one-dimensional. Wrapp also averaged 8.9 points per game, came up with an average of 5.4 rebounds each outing and had nine games he broke into double-digit scoring.
"I just have to try to be a leader and help my team on and off the court," he said. "There is going to be a learning curve at the beginning especially. Hopefully that is where I can give my team the most help getting through."
Wrapp is not completely alone in taking the reins of the Knights. Guards Gabe Tierney and Trevor McQueeney saw minutes last season and are familiar with the Knights' varsity system and expectations. But it is a new addition to the team that has the potential to make a splash, albeit later in the year. At 6-foot, 8-inches Austin Sparks adds a fair amount of size to the Knights, but due to CHSAA bylaws the Valor Christian transfer must sit half the season. Sparks should not miss a beat, however, jumping into the system given he and Wrapp play for the same club program.
"He's really versatile for a big man," Wrapp said. "He can knock down 3s and get to the rim. And he and I have a real good connection."
Sparks, for his part, believes he can play a wider role on the team than just what he brings to the court. Last season he helped Valor to the 4A Final Four, an experience he believes will be an asset for his present team, especially if the Knights continue to live up to their high standards.
"I know for everybody on (Valor) the experience was nerve-wracking," the University of South Dakota recruit said. "I think I can bring a little bit of experience in that aspect."
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.