CRESTVIEW — Expectations were high for Crestview High School's Ronnie Baylark, even before he played his first basketball game as a freshman in November of 2010.
Then-Bulldog Coach Keith White predicted great things for his silky smooth shooting guard.
Baylark, now a senior playing point guard, has lived up to most of those expectations as he tries to savor his final high school season.
"It’s amazing how fast time went by," he said. "I just have to put my arms around it (the season), now that I’m a senior, and embrace my last year."
Learning new systems
Coaching changes have marked Baylark's high school career. Baylark played for White as a freshman and sophomore. Ken Meisner was the Bulldog coach last year. Greg Watson directs the team this year.
Baylark downplays how tough adapting to the different coaches has been.
"I wouldn’t say it’s been difficult," he said. "We have challenges in learning a new system and how they like to do things, but I wouldn’t say it’s been difficult.
"It’s an ongoing process. We are getting better, and we will continue to get better."
In some small way, the coaching changes have helped Baylark develop as a player.
"I’ve grown a lot," he said. "I’ve matured a lot on the court. I’ve learned how to be a leader and just how to talk to my teammates.
"When things are not going well, I figure out how to inform my team and get us out of the predicament."
A player's strengths
Baylark's leadership and unselfishness have impressed Watson, who accepted at the start of the summer.
"I feel like he’s a good leader for us, and that’s very important," Watson said. "He’s a competitor. He does everything pretty well.
"He’s unselfish. I’ve seen lot of guys that have averaged 18 points a game in the past and they have to get their’s (points). But he’s not that like that at all."
Watson continued to rattle off a long list of strengths Baylark possesses.
"He can shoot from outside," he said. "He can drive. He can defend.
"He can rebound. If you do all those things you’re going to be a pretty good player."
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Baylark hopes to play college basketball, but he's keeping his college preferences to himself for now.
He did say he wants to play at a Division I school close enough to Crestview that his parents could see him play. He hasn't ruled out playing junior college ball at a school like Northwest Florida State College. And he would entertain offers from a Division II program such as the University of West Florida.
Academic options also will play a big role in Baylark's decision as he hopes to study sports medicine.
Watson believes Baylark has the skill sets to be a good college player.
"He’s going to play the point at the next level, and that’s what he does for us so it shouldn’t be any different," Watson said. "He handles the ball well enough to do that. We really need for him to do a little more for us offensively.
"At the next level (college) he probably won’t have to do that (score) quite as much even though he probably could. I think he will be a great college point guard. I really do."
As Baylark moves from high school to college basketball, there will always be those who try to compare him to another player.
But he's not into the comparison games.
"I don’t try to compare myself to anybody else," he said. "I just try to think about how I can prepare myself to be the best that I can be."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.