When Brandon Giles became head coach before the 2017-18 season he said, "I am committed to taking Polk State basketball to a higher level."
That commitment continues to show results, as the Eagles rank No. 9 in the NJCAA Region 8 Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll, breaking into the top 10 for the first time in Giles's tenure at Polk State.
"There is lots of work still to be done, however it definitely is a boost for our program," says Giles.
"That's a testament to the hard work and dedication my staff and I have put in. Region 8 is said by many to be the nation's top NJCAA region, and to be ranked in the top half of that region means a lot for our program."
He points out, though, that other schools have also improved.
"The entire region got a lot better this year, so we have our work cut out for us to win a championship this season. It's very much possible, but our players have to continue to buy in to the program and respond the right way when adversity hits."
This year's squad promises to be deep and talented. More than 50 Division 1 and 2 schools have been on campus the last month to evaluate the players, several of whom have received offers in the early recruiting period from well-known universities.
Last year's team went 12-2 at home but struggled on the road, where it had a 2-15 record.
"We look forward to winning more road games this year and continuing to build the great home momentum we started last season," says Giles. "I think our road wins will come from the toughness and maturity we are instilling in this year's group.
"My expectation this year is very clear: Stack bricks every day that will build a championship trophy! We want a championship, nothing less."
The Eagles hold their third annual Red Night Madness pep rally Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. in Winter Haven. The event is open to the public and admission is free.
The team starts the season Nov. 1 with a 6 p.m. game against Advance Prep Academy in Winter Haven.
Polk State enters the 2019-20 season ranked No 9 in NJCAA Region 8. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)