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Yes, yes, I know. It's football season now, what with teams toiling away on practice fields across the county as I write this. But hey, it's never too early to glance ahead to the upcoming basketball season.

With that in mind, I'll pass on this little note about the William Penn boys' hoops squad: According to head coach Troy Sowers, the Bearcats picked up a pair of transfers from New Hope Academy in the offseason, in rising junior guards Collin Smith and Dejian Williams.

It remains to be seen how much either will contribute to William Penn this winter. Both were key players as sophomores for New Hope, which finished 17-3 in its second season and advanced to the quarterfinals of the District 3 tournament. Smith was one of the teams more consistent scorers -- he dropped 27 points in a district playoff victory against Mt. Calvary Christian.

Both Smith and Williams came up through William Penn's junior high system before choosing to attend New Hope for their freshman and sophomore years.

Considering William Penn graduated all but one of its top 7 players from last season, I'm guessing the Bearcats will take all the help they can get. William Penn's only returning starter is senior guard Kelvin Parker, last season's YAIAA Division I player of the year.

None of which means William Penn is in store for a step-back season. Several players who are in line to start -- like senior guard Dontae Davis and senior forwards Willie Hicks and Zachary Newby -- received playing time last season. Others, like sophomore Tavon Parker (Kelvin's brother) figure to contribute in some fashion.

That group has immersed itself in an intense offseason program.

"We probably put more work in this year than any of my five years, as far as weight room, morning workouts, after-school stuff," Sowers said.

The coach typically gives his team a month off after the season, he said. This year's group came to Sowers two weeks after the season ended, antsy to get back to work.

Besides their thrice-weekly morning workouts, the Bearcats also played around 30 summer league games the last few months (more than usual) and attended two team camps.

"Even though we haven't played a game yet," Sowers said, "it feels like my team."

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