A new era starts this season with the Union boys basketball Wildcats.

Christopher Simmons takes over as the team’s head coach and inherits a team which went 11-15 overall and 2-5 in the Four Rivers Conference last season.

Simmons is in his first season as a head coach after serving as an assistant at Greenville College in Greenville, Ill., for the past two seasons.

A graduate of Sedalia Sacred Heart, Simmons played at Greenville before transitioning to a coaching role.

“I am very excited about this upcoming season because we have a lot of kids who really have bought into this and want to be here to play for each other,” said Simmons. “This truly is a special bunch of kids and I am excited to see how we improve as the season goes along because of our youth (one returning starter who was a big contributor and two sophomore returning starters who played minor roles and can have major roles this season). We have young talented guards and our posts are interesting combination of size and athleticism.”

The Wildcats have three starters returning from last season’s team, senior Brandon Ford and sophomores Nick Ziegler and Blake Hulsey.

Ford, forward, is a triple threat. He averaged 12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.32 blocked shots per game last season. He also had 1.7 assists per game.

Hitting 24 three-point shots, Ford has an outside shooting touch as well.

Ziegler averaged 8.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game last season and is expected to add to that this year.

Hulsey, quarterback on Union’s football team, averaged 3.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game last year.

Expected to take a larger role this season is 6-9 junior Brian Borgmann, who averaged 5.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game last year.

Senior Ashton Dehn, who played in 19 games last season, and junior T.J. Vitt, who saw action in seven varsity games, are expected to make a much bigger impact on the varsity squad this season.

With only two seniors and two juniors, Simmons is looking to the sophomore class to provide additional depth for this year’s team.