JoJo Walker is set to play his next basketball for the University of Portland Pilots.

Three of his senior teammates from the 2016-17 St. Joseph basketball team have graduated as well.

Thus, veteran coach Tom Mott's squad has a somewhat new look as it tries to assume its accustomed spot in the top echelon of the PAC 8 League.

Their style of play will be familiar. Mott said the Knights will press on defense, play an up-tempo offense and take the outside shot if they think it's there.  

The Knights do have one starter back from the team that finished 24-6, including 11-3 in the PAC 8 League. He is 6-foot-7 center Elihu Cobb.

Cobb was third in scoring (12.2 points a game) and first in rebounds (9.2) for a St. Joseph team that finished second in the PAC 8 and made it to the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 2A Playoffs.

That St. Joseph team was also hit by graduation after the 2015-16 Knights made it to the semifinals of the Southern Cal Regional before being upset at home by Playa del Rey St. Bernard.

This year, "We'll have Elihu starting for us at center, Matt Chavez, who played a lot of minutes for us at guard, and Michael Ramirez, once he gets here from football, for us at forward," said Mott.

"Michael saw a lot of playing time off the bench last year."

Ramirez was a key receiver for a St. Joseph football team that went out in the quarterfinals of the Division 5 playoffs on Nov. 18.

"The other two spots are open," said Mott. Besides losing four starters to graduation, "We lost our sixth man, our first player off the bench (to graduation) as well."

Besides Chavez and Ramirez, St. Joseph does have some other returning reserves from last year. They are E.J. Brinez and C.J. Osiris.

St. Joseph competed at the Mission Prep Classic last year before winning at the Vegas Invitational and at the White Mountain Holiday Classic in Arizona, both for the second straight time.

The St. Joseph tournament itinerary is different this year. The Knights will play again in the Vegas Invitational, at Bishop Gorman High School. However, they will open against Westlake Village at the Clash on the Coast Tournament at Oxnard Pacifica High School on Dec. 12.

They will follow up the Clash on the Coast Tournament appearance with the Tarkanian Classic at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas then again play at the Vegas Invitational, at Mountain View High School.

Once again, the Knights won't make their season home debut until after New Year's day. This time, it is set for Jan. 3 against Paso Robles in their league opener.  

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Sports Reporter