It was a hectic offseason for Westview’s new boys basketball coach as he scurried to prepare the Knights to play in three tournaments in June.

Westview played in three tournaments during the month — the Arizona State University team camp, Grand Canyon University team camp and the Summer 64 tournament at Laveen Cesar Chavez, but Brendan McEvoy had precious little time to get his team ready.

“I wasn’t cleared to work with the players until June 1,” McEvoy said. “We had only three practices before the ASU camp, so we really struggled there.

“We played some really tough teams at ASU, including Rancho Cucamonga [Calif.], which was 24-5 last year, Mesa and Montclair [Calif.], which was 20-7 last season, and [Phoenix] Thunderbird.”

The Knights displayed some improvement in time for the Grand Canyon camp.

“We competed a little better at Grand Canyon,” McEvoy said. “We beat [Phoenix] Northwest Christian twice and lost to [Mesa] Dobson, [Chandler] Perry and [Glendale] Deer Valley.”

The team began to click in the Summer 64 tournament, McEvoy said.

“We kind of came together as a team at the Summer 64 tournament,” McEvoy said. “We placed sixth out of 64 teams, going 4-2.

“We beat [Phoenix] Central in four overtimes. That’s when we turned the corner. Then we had to play Tempe in about 20 minutes. They were a track team and we ran out of gas.”

McEvoy has a solid core of players returning from a team that went 21-8 last season, losing to Vail Cienega, 60-57, in the first round of the Division I state tournament.

Starters returning are center Andre Adams, forward Isaiah Bellamy, both seniors, and sophomore point guard Kendall Barnes.

“We have a lot of potential,” said McEvoy, who guided Desert Edge to a 19-10 record least season, reaching the quarterfinals of the Division II state tournament.

Changes implemented

Despite the Knights’ success last season, McEvoy employs a different defensive philosophy, so changes were made on the defensive end.

“They are used to playing man-to-man,” McEvoy said. “We’re trying to do it all, incorporating some zone. They are athletic enough that we can probably trap teams.

“You’ve got to be able to play defense 18 feet in, so you’ve got to be able to play man or zone. It’s a pretty significant change I’m asking them to make on defense. We could be a pretty good zone team.

“Everyone is trying to figure out their roles.”

One of the factors in making the defensive transition go smoothly is the presence of Adams, who at 6-foot-8 poses a formidable deterrent in the middle. He blocked 65 shots last season, averaging 2.5 per game.

“It’s nice having a shot blocker like Andre,” McEvoy said. “That will allow us to play multiple defenses.

“Andre is working hard for us. He is stepping up and becoming a vocal leader. He has improved. For a player of his caliber, that’s saying a lot. He is maturing. He is much more serious about his approach to the game.”

Bellamy, who averaged 7.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 2012-13, is another key player.

He is still battling some knee problems after having knee surgery last season.

“We need Isaiah in February more than we need him now,” McEvoy said. “We tried to limit his minutes during the summer. We will have to closely monitor his minutes during the season.”

Another major component is Barnes, who is still recovering from mononucleosis he contracted toward the end of last season.

“Kendall Barnes did great,” McEvoy said. “He is one of the hardest-working players on the court. I felt that he was one of the best guards we saw on the court. He is one of he smartest ball handlers and finishers. He is very poised. That’s not surprising since his father is a longtime coach at the high school and college levels. Kendall was brought up around basketball. He knows how to play the game.”

In addition to his court savvy, Barnes’ physical strength is a plus.

“Kendall is strong and can take a bump,” McEvoy said. “He will need to work on his jumper a little.”

In an effort to reduce Barnes’ workload at the point, junior Dominic Sesma saw extensive playing time at the 1 during the summer.

“Dominic Sesma has really asserted himself,” McEvoy said. “He is learning to run the offense. With Kendall out for the Summer 64, Dominic ran the point and did a good job. With Dominic progressing, we can slide Kendall over to the 2 at times.”

A trio of players who came off the bench last season is also being counted upon heavily — shooting guard John Gray, combo guard Orlando Sabur and forward Irvin Ornelas.

“John Gray also played well this summer,” McEvoy said. “He shot with a lot of confidence. He’s become a leader.”

“Orlando Sabur played only in one tournament. He had football commitments.

“Irvin Ornelas is a pretty good athlete and will help us.”

A player returning after sitting out last year could have a big impact, McEvoy said. Senior Brandon Mykleby is a 6-9, 265-pound center.

“This summer we played him a lot,” McEvoy said. “His size can help us out in the middle on defense.”

While McEvoy has a solid core of veterans, his “biggest job is to develop six, seven, eight guys off the bench,” he said.

Westview is finished with play for the summer but looking to play in a fall league, possibly at Arizona Christian.

“We will need that to get ready for the season,” McEvoy said. “We will see more East Valley competition. We need to see those teams to prepare us for the playoffs.”

The Knights open the season Dec. 3, hosing Chandler.

Mike Russo can be reached by email at