For most of the last decade, the Lake Norman area has produced some of the state's best basketball teams from East Lincoln to Hopewell to North Meck to reigning 4A state champion, Lake Norman.
But after years of domination on the court, this season will be more about reloading and rebuilding with younger players in some cases and with new coaches in others.
But while the talent and coaches may be younger, the excitement lies in who will emerge as the new stars.
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After establishing themselves as one of the best teams in the class 3A, Lake Norman proved they were the best team in class 4A as coach Brandon Jolly and company went all the way, winning the 4A state championship in their first year in the state's highest classification.
But nearly everyone is gone from that team including stars Paul Larsen, Reggie Price and Kevin Canevari. Now, Jolly and the Wildcats start over with senior forward, Brian Whalen, the only returning starter. Seniors Austin Eisenhofer and Chris Patterson will be counted to be key players this year with transfer Najee Pritchett, a 6-foot-3 (Reggie) Price-clone, according to Jolly, who will be expected to score early and often.
Hopewell had one of the best teams in the state for the past two years.
But stars DeMon Brooks, Jordan Downing, Bryce Hawkins and head coach, Eric Davis, all are gone.
Now, the Titans and new head coach, Damon Bost, must rebuild around 6-foot-7 forward Elliott Pope, Michael Russelland a host of young talent. Newcomers Daron Curry and Darius Smalls will also make an big impact for the Titans.
Despite having a lot of talent, Duane Lewis and North Mecklenburg struggled for much of last season in what was a loaded I-Meck conference. Now, the Vikings seem to be one of the better teams, with lead guard Carlin Bremmer and former Lake Norman Charter point guard Shivaughn Wiggins (17.4 ppg) leading the offense.
Add forward Jermaine Forte, shooter Karl Barkley and some promising, young talent to the mix and the Vikings are one of the I-Meck favorites.
Mooresville could be one of the most improved teams.
Athletic guards Isaiah Johnson and Shawn Lester (17.5 ppg) will allow the Blue Devils to control tempo, while forwards Kendrick Johnson and Kyle Haslett should help the team control the boards.
Lester, who already has an offer from N.C. State, is expected to be one of the league's best players.
Brand new high school, Hough High, will face one of the biggest challenges this season, starting a program from scratch in one of the best leagues in the state.
But the Huskies have the man to do it in coach Justin Batts.
Batts, who first trained at North Meck under Lewis and with Davis at Hopewell, has some talent in former North Meck J.V. stars Johnny Piedmonte (6-foot-7) and point guard Brandon Mobley.
East Lincoln coach Neil Hodges has averaged more than 20 wins a season for the last five-plus years with stars like Keith Rendleman. This year, the Mustangs will have to depend on a more balanced lineup as the junior Patrick Rendleman, Keith's younger brother, and seniors Parker Hills, Marcus Corona and Antwaine McLean form the nucleus of a program that is used to winning.
Davidson Day had a good team last year going 22-7 overall, including 5-2 in conference play to finish second to United Faith Christian team.
Now, the Patriots are loaded with Clemson commit, former North Meck star, Bernard Sullivan. Cannon star Keith Belfield also transferred to Davidson Day and will form a potent 1-2-3 punch at the top of the Patriot lineup with lightning quick point guard, Rashun Davis.
After winning only six games last year, SouthLake Christian made some big changes. They replaced former coach Trent Barnes with former NBA player Ben Handlogten. Handlogten, a 6-foot-10 forward himself who played for the Utah Jazz, now hopes to lead a young team back up the Metrolina Athletic Conference ladder.
Point guard Zak Johnston is one of the building blocks for a team that will need time to develop.