Youthful RCTC men's basketball team takes aim at reloading during 2023-24 season

Nov. 2—Head coach: Brian LaPlante (27th season, 535-231 career record).

Last season: The Yellowjackets finished 23-8, won the MCAC South Division title, the Region XIII championship and went on to place third at the NJCAA Division III National Tournament.

Top returners: Blue Smaller (F, Minneapolis, 3.4 points, 3.4 rebounds per game), Zach Herrmann (G, Blue Earth, 2.0 ppg), Obinna Izuora (G, Mounds View, 2.1 ppg, 1.1 rpb), Roman Warmka (F, Grand Meadow, 1.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg), Daelen Whitfield (G, St. Paul).

Season outlook: The Yellowjackets lost all of their top players from a year ago and they will feature a very young squad. Blue Smaller did start 12 of 31 games a year ago and Roman Warmka had three starts. "We have a very inexperienced team but have great leadership," coach Brian LaPlante said. But LaPlante tends to reload, not rebuild. He has guided RCTC to the national tournament eight times and since 2010 has had three national runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes. He expects another competitive and strong defensive team. Some top newcomers include forwards Jason Klecker (Owatonna) and Jamison Lien (Prior Lake) along with guards Laden Nerison (Kenyon-Wanamingo), Aden Price (Mounds View) and Elvis Pina (Dover-Eyota). Smaller, Lien and Klecker are all in the 6-foot-4 to 6-5 range. LaPlante said top teams to beat in the state/region include Central Lakes, Riverland, St. Cloud, Anoka-Ramsey and Mesabi Range.

Coach Brian LaPlante says: "We are excited to get going on this year. We are inexperienced but have some characteristics that can hopefully lead us to some success. We will play hard and defend and hopefully improve throughout the year and play our best basketball in February and March."

RCTC 2023-24 men's basketball schedule

RCTC 2023-24 men's basketball roster