The high school basketball season is upon us.
So today we’re taking an early survey of the teams, the upcoming season and players to watch.
Here’s the rundown.
West Charlotte: The Lions lost all five starters from last year’s 4A state semifinal team. But Coach Baronton Terry has made a habit of reloading quickly as five of his last six teams have made it at least to 4A West Regional (playoff) play.
Berry: Coach Maurice Jones says his team is as talented as any he’s had at Berry, but will have to prove itself in the brutal, SoMeck8 and in the postseason to living up to their potential.
Rocky River: The Ravens have a lot of momentum going into this season after winning eight of their last 10 games to finish second in the SW4A conference. They also have a lot of talent, starting with 6-foot-8, Division I recruit, Keyon Wesley (14.4 ppg), junior Anthony Salley leading the way.
Harding: Coach Walt Aikens also believes his young team can contend in the SoMeck8, and will rely on suffocating defense to get there.
East Mecklenburg: East Mecklenburg coach, Dwight Miller, believes his team can challenge for Southwestern 4A title and more.
Kobie Williams, West Charlotte, 6-5, Sr., G/F: A key reserve for the Lions a year ago, now will need to play a lead role for his team and the Division I recruit has the talent to do so.
Keyon Wesley, Rocky River, 6-9, Sr., F: The Ravens’ all-conference forward (14.4 ppg) will use his talents, 7-foot-1 wingspan to help Rocky River contend for a SW4A title, also a Division I recruit.
Rayshawn Neal, Garinger, 5-11, Jr., G: The Wildcats’ dynamic guard (20 ppg as a sophomore) can put points on the board in a hurry and hopes his production will turn into more wins to put Garinger in playoff position.
Jamarius Burton, Berry, 6-4, So, G/F: The Cardinals’ sophomore’s stock is rising fast as he already has ACC recruiting attention (Wake Forest, Virginia) after a great summer, where he added two inches and 10 pounds to an already solid frame.
Jalen Knight, West Charlotte, 5-11, Jr., PG: Like Williams, Knight will be expected to step up his game as the runs the show for the Lions.
Players on the Rise
Tarrick Perry, Harding, 6-3, Sr., G/F and Karl Hankton, 6-8, Jr., C/F: The Rams have several players on verge of breakout seasons with Perry (12 ppg) and Hankton at the top of that list.
Zailan Peeler, Myers Park, 6-3, Jr., G: If the Mustangs want to carry any of postseason magic (4A state quarterfinalist) they will need the only returning starter to emerge as a major playmaker.
Seth Bradbury, East Mecklenburg, 6-3, Jr., G: The Eagles’ all-SW4A guard (14 ppg) will need to step his game up even more for East Mecklenburg to climb the league standings.
Brandon Faison, Mallard Creek, 6-1, Sr., G: The Mavericks’ senior guard had some big games, but looks to become a more consistent playmaker for an experienced team with potential.
Isiah Johnson, West Charlotte, 6-6, Jr., F and Melvin Huntley, West Charlotte, 6-6, Jr., F: The Lions will need one or both of their young big men to step up inside if they are going to remain at the top of the MECKA 4A conference.
Must See Games
West Charlotte at Harding, Dec. 1: The Lions and Rams are not only archrivals, but will give each young team a great early season, measuring stick.
Garinger at Butler, Dec. 8: This matchup pits three of the fastest guards in the city, with Garinger’s Rayshawn Neal likely to be in a track meet with Butler guard’s Orlando Robinson and RaeQuan Scott.
West Charlotte at North Mecklenburg, Jan. 26: West Charlotte and North Meck have traditionally played with a league title on the line and this game will likely have big conference and postseason implications again.
Harding at Berry, Feb. 2 and Berry at Ardrey Kell, Feb. 5: All three of these teams have SoMeck8 conference ambitions and the first week in February will be a critical juncture.
Rocky River at Butler, Feb. 2 and Rocky at Independence, Feb. 9: The same can be said in the Southwestern 4A conference where Butler, Independence and Rocky River will battle for bragging rights the same week.
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.