The Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team should look strikingly similar in terms of personnel compared to the one that posted the only losing record during coach Chris Rider's tenure last winter.

The Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team should look strikingly similar in terms of personnel compared to the one that posted the only losing record during coach Chris Rider's tenure last winter.

So why does Rider, who enters his 15th season, believe there is so much reason for optimism?

"The bottom line is that they're all a year older," said Rider, whose team opens Friday, Dec. 2, at Westerville South. "I kind of like what we've got going on. We're deeper and guys are competing for minutes."

The Raiders couldn't overcome inexperience last season and finished 8-13 overall, posting their first non-winning record since going 11-11 in 1998-99, Rider's second season.

Among the positives last season were Wendell Davis' development into one of the area's better frontcourt players and a new group of guards to lead the way.

Davis, a 6-foot-4 junior, made honorable mention all-district in Division I and first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division after averaging 14.2 points and nine rebounds.

Also back are seniors Ryan Carter (6-7), Spencer Kirksey (6-4), Chris Lee (5-9) and R.J. Raglin (6-3), junior Jaylen Givens (5-10) and sophomore Travis Gleason (5-7).

Kirksey averaged 12.4 points, made a team-best 41 3-pointers and was honorable mention all-league. Lee averaged 6.1 points and should split time at point guard with Gleason, while Raglin averaged 8.2 points. Givens averaged 2.6 points and made 13 3-pointers as another backcourt option.

Carter averaged 4.5 points and should join Davis in the post. Other frontcourt options should include senior Donnie Moody (6-2) and juniors Michael Smith (6-4), Mykal Traylor-Bennett (6-3) and Nate Wallace (6-2).

Also on the team are senior Algie Johnson (5-9) and junior A.J. Mitchell (5-8).

"(Almost) everybody is back from last year," Raglin said. "We've been coming to work every single day with the mindset of getting better. We've got big goals. I think we're really athletic with some of the guys up from the (junior varsity). We're faster and more athletic this year, and we can go small or go big. We're a lot more versatile."

Last season, the Raiders lost five of their first six games, although two of those losses -to Newark (68-61) and Westerville South (82-78) - came in overtime.

A 65-60 victory over Grove City on Jan. 21 began a stretch in which Reynoldsburg won four of six, but it lost its final two regular-season games and then fell to Independence 57-46 in the first round of the district tournament.

Josh Albrecht, a 6-6 post player who averaged 5.3 points, and backup guard Javon Pressley were the only players lost to graduation.

The Raiders placed fifth in the OCC-Ohio last season at 7-7, behind co-champions Gahanna (13-1) and Pickerington North (13-1) as well as Newark and Pickerington Central (both 8-6). Grove City (5-9), Groveport (1-13) and Lancaster (1-13) rounded out the standings.

"Counting the freshmen and sophomores, we have 34 in the program," Rider said. "I think we're pretty well-rounded. (Traylor)-Bennett and Gleason really give us some speed and we're pretty deep. We've got Wendell inside, and outside R.J. has improved his shooting and Kirksey is one of the best 3-point shooters in Columbus.

"We were 7-7 in the league, and it's a pretty good league. I'd be lying to you if I didn't think we'd do better this year."