Steve Hesser starts his fourth year in Weiser gym and will coach a veteran team that's looking to make some post season noise.
When Steve Hesser took over the Drury program four years ago he knew exactly who the first building block would be, a raw physcial specimen from Jefferson City.
Steve Hesser/Drury Coach:"When I signed him I said he was a heck of an athlete. He was a better athlete than he was a basketball player."
Four years later, 6-foot-5, 225 pound Collins Harris stands as an example of what intense teaching and hard work can do. Harris enters his senior season, a preseason all-America candidate, and the undisputed leader of this Panthers squad.
Collins Harris/17.8 ppg last year:"Coming out of high school, I was really immature. I really didn't know what it took to be a college player. He had great assistants over the years that have worked with me. He's been patient, they've been patient, kind of broke me down and built me back up."
Hesser:"You know he was willing to listen. And get in the gym by himself. He started having some success. So he started working harder and his skill set got a lot better."
Harris is one of four returning starters for Hessers Drury team that has won 21 games the last three seasons.
Getting to the NCAA tournament has not been a problem for the Panthers.
Winning a game in the D2 event has been.
That's one big goal for this Drury team that goes into the season ranked 22nd in the national D2 coaches poll.
Harris:"We really don't look too far into the future as far as the tournament goes. But when that time comes we know that we'll have to step up and what we have to do to get to the next part."
In addition to the four veterans, Hesser has added a couple of new faces to the squad, 6-8 senior center Deonte Cox a transfer from Missouri Southern, and juco transfer guard Jamel Grant from Oklahoma.
Jamel Grant/Drury Guard:"Definitely playing with Collins and Chris and Tim and those guys, they're all our leaders and play a big brother role to me. They just want me to get in there quick, fast and in a hurry and be ready to go."
Mixing the newcomers with the veterans will be the early season chore for the Panthers, but a little hard work is what Collins Harris is used to.
Harris:"I think I need to show the new guys how we do it at Drury. How hard we have to play, how long we have to play. And what it takes to win."