Hancock College sophomore point guard Shane Carney believes he came to a realization recently, and it was a pleasant one.
After the 6-3 Bulldogs won the championship of a tournament Ohlone College hosted recently, Carney said, "I knew we had a deep team."
The Bulldogs went 3-0 in the tourney, and Carney was the tournament MVP. Freshman teammate Javae Lampkins made the All-Tournament Team.
They were hardly the only ones who made big contributions for the Bulldogs. In fact, Hancock parlayed a deep bench into the tournament title.
"Every team is different," said fifth-year Hancock coach Tyson Aye. "I think this team has the most depth of any team I've had here.
"We can go 10-11 (players) deep in the rotation."
The Bulldogs average just over 79 points a game, and four of them average in double figures. Carney leads at 16.7 points a game, Lampkins is at 11.0, freshman Glenn Jordan averages 10.3 and Spirit Ricks, another freshman, is at 10.0.
Besides team depth, "This team is unique in that they have brought in to what we're doing 100 percent since day one," said Aye.
"The chemistry and hustle have been great. There's been no arguing, no bickering."
Besides the four players who average in double figures, several others have made some key contributions for the Bulldogs,.
Trenton Mitchell leads the team in rebounds at 7.5 a game. Devin Davis averages nearly eight points a game and Kevin Baines, who is a regular starter, averages nearly seven.
Also, Aye said three freshmen, forwards D.J. Searcy and John Riddick and guard Diego Lucas, who is a native of Pordenone, Italy, have made significant contributions this year.
Besides, the Bulldogs figure to be bolstered when veteran Shemarr Parker, who plays for the Hancock football team that won the Pacific League championship and played in the American Bowl Saturday, joins the basketball team.
This may be a unique Aye team in some ways, but it is not unique in its style of play. A fast break offense and a pressure defense were staples of Aye's Hancock teams in the past, and they are staples this year.
In fact, "We're pressing more aggressively on defense this year," said Aye. "We've pressed before, but we're doing it more aggressively. We think we have the athleticism and the length to do it."
Riddick is 6-foot-9, Ricks is 6-7, and five other Bulldogs are 6-6 or taller.
Ricks said the style the Bulldogs play fits right in with the way his teams played at Patterson High School.
"Our high school (basketball) teams were very athletic," said Ricks. In 2016, Ricks' senior year, the Tigers went 20-8.
Lampkins is a Washington D.C. native. He attended Mt. Zion Christian Academy in high school, a school down the road from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Mt. Zion is known for its high school basketball teams.
"Amar'e Stoudamire and Tracy McGrady played there," said Lampkins. McGrady was inducted into the 2017 class of the NBA Hall of Fame.
"Going to a place like that helps with recognition," said Lampkins. "I'm from Maryland, where there are gyms all over, and it's hard to get noticed."
Carney attended Narbonne High School in Los Angeles. He had a big 2015-16 freshman season for the Bulldogs. He missed most of the 2016-17 season after being hurt in a car accident.
"I only played nine games," he said. Carney said he is fully in the basketball swing now, and his play has certainly indicated that he is.