Last season, Winslow Township coach Jared Price enjoyed a strong debut season, going 19-8 overall and earning a tie for the Olympic Conference Patriot Division title with Shawnee and Timber Creek.

The Eagles appeared to have a contending team this year but suffered a setback when their best player, 6-foot-6 senior Shawn Valentine, decided to attend the Phelps School, a Pennsylvania prep school.

Valentine had made an oral commitment during the summer to attend Rider and said that attending prep school would benefit him academically.

"We obviously wanted to have him back, but he has to do what's best for him," Price said.

And now Winslow Township enters a new-look Olympic Conference Patriot Division with just one returning starter - but plenty of optimism.

Shawnee, which, along with Timber Creek, shared the title with Winslow Township, is the Patriot favorite, while newcomer Pennsauken should also be in the mix.

"This will be an interesting team," Price said. "We will be quick and athletic."

Not to mention dangerous, especially once this young group gains some experience.

Richard Smith, a 6-foot-1 senior who averaged 6.1 points per game is the lone returning starter.

One key returning letter-winner is Stacey Upshaw Goree, a 6-4 senior. Winslow Township also welcomes back 6-2 senior Geoffrey Jones, who was injured last year.

Sophomore Adonius Melvins is expected to see time at point guard, and the Eagles will be bolstered by two transfers, 6-0 senior Stephen Jones from Roman Catholic and 6-0 junior Billy Johnson from Lindenwold.

Both players have to sit the first 30 days because of NJSIAA transfer rules, another reason the Eagles should be a much-better team in the second half of the season.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.