Change didn't come easily for Washington Township's Brandon Adkins.
Surrounded by seniors on last year's 16-win team, he thrived as a spot-up shooter. Come this season, there was a new role, higher expectations, and the transition wasn't immediate.
"I didn't start off the way I wanted to," Adkins said. "Being older, being a captain, there's more pressure on you. It wasn't as much fun. I had a talk with coach (Scott Bowersock) after the first couple games and he just said to calm down, get more guys involved. I felt like I had more on my shoulders, then I realized I didn't. I didn't have to score everything. It's a whole team."
It was a fine line for Bowersock to draw, emphasizing Adkins's importance to the team's success without making him feel he had to carry the weight of the program.
"He had to go from a shooter to a scorer, which isn't always an easy transition to go through," Bowersock said. "He had to go from third option to primary option, where you're going to see a lot of the best defenders. He was able to get open last year. Now he's the one who has to create, which, in turn, will open up his game. He started to learn. He knows his first focal point is to get his teammates involved."
While Adkins leads the 8-5 Senators in scoring (15.6 per game), he also leads them in assists (3.1), a category that's trended upward through his career.
"Coach always told me, 'Let the game come to you, don't force anything,'" he said. "Offense, it was attacking more. When I do that, it gets other guys open, too. I started to let the game come to me, and we came further as a team."
The rest of the puzzle has come together around Adkins, though there's no disputing he's the centerpiece.
"We've had to get on him the last couple weeks to shoot instead of pass," Bowersock said. "The hard part, being the main scorer, is trying to figure when your time is and when it isn't. He's an unselfish player, but in a tight game, we want the ball in his hands. He wants to take the big shot. He doesn't shy away from it. That's nothing new. His teammates know if they get him open, he'll hit that shot. They have complete confidence in him as the go-to guy."
Bowersock arrived at Washington in 2010, when Adkins, as a freshman, was brought up for the last five games. He was the sixth man as a sophomore and moved into the starting five as a junior.
"His teammates look to him on and off the court, to set that example," Bowersock said. "He understands what we want done. That doesn't mean we don't get on him, maybe more than most, being a four-year player. We preach defense and one area he's worked on in his footwork. He's become a better on-ball defensive player."
Adkins credits Bowersock for bringing balance to his game, which was once decidedly one-sided.
"Defense was my main focus coming in, where I really needed to improve," Adkins said. "I would think too much, where I was supposed to be, as opposed to just playing it."
When Adkins was a frosh, W.T. lost 18 games. It went 6-14 in 2011-12 before last year's 10-win spike. Though it will take a big run to match that total, a precedent of success has been established.
"It was pretty much the same expectations," Adkins said. "We go into every game thinking we can win. That's the mindset you need. Coach is really set on having consistent records every year. He's really turned the program around. Seeing where we've come from, my freshman to senior year, it's been a big improvement. To know I was at the start of something getting turned around, it's a good feeling."