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Columbia's very youthful basketball team will be looking to build around the talents of freshman point guard Jalen Robinson (in top photo), the son of the team's sixth-year head coach, Eugene 'Bam' Robinson, as the Cougars are preparing to go to war in the always tough SEC-American. (Photos courtesy of njhoops and Gene Nann-nannphoto)

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Columbia does have a potentially very good sophomore class with youngsters to watch such as 6-1 guards Andrew Rolley and Chris Darcelin and 6-0 Xavier Strotsa.

“That group was very good as eighth-graders and freshmen and we’re looking for them to step in and help us this season,” said Robinson. “These young guys are going to gain some very valuable experience over the course of this season and hopefully that translates into some continued improvement as we continue to compete against some of the best teams in the state.”

Looking at the SEC-American, Robinson, who is always a keen observer of the Essex County scene, said he thinks Newark East Side will still be strong even with its heavy losses to graduation off a Group 4 state championship squad including all-state point guard Nas Amos, and that defending division champion Immaculate and Seton Hall Prep will both be solid.

“East Side has (6-6 forward) Mikah (Johnson) who is committed to Monmouth and enough other talent to still be a big factor, that’s for sure,” said the Columbia head mentor. “A team in the county who I also think will surprise some people and will be very good is East Orange (Campus) which returns virtually its entire team from last year.”

As far as day-to-day goes; however, the No. 1 focus for Robinson will be developing his sixth Columbia team into a better basketball team as the season progresses.

“I’m looking forward to getting it all started and we have a good group of kids who enjoy playing together and coming to the gym each day ready to work hard,” he said. “I love coaching this team and I also want nothing else but the best competition we can face as we continue to build something positive here at Columbia.”                     

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

Columbia always has a fiery and persistent presence on its sideline with coach Eugene 'Bam' Robinson, who enters sixth season as Cougars prepare to open up new campaign on Thursday Dec. 19 at 7 vs. Montclair. (Photos by Richard Morris/SHP and David Simmons)

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