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.
North Mecklenburg: The Vikings have the talent, led by seniors Davion Mintz and Jaylen McManus to make a run both the MECKA 4A and 4A state championships.
East Lincoln: The reigning, 2A state runner-up is loaded with talent again, led by two of the best players in the state in brothers, Chazz and Sage Surratt. Anything less than a 2A state championship would be a disappointment for this veteran team.
Lincoln Charter: The Eagles have four starters back from a 25-win team, and have a talented backcourt in sophomore point guard Kody Shubert and seniors Logan Foster and Kevin Walsh, who will give them a chance to go deep to be 1A state contenders.
Lake Norman: The Wildcats lost all five starters and more than 4,000 career points, but someone else is going to have to prove they can knock Coach Brandon Jolly and company off the top of the North Piedmont conference.
Hough: Life without All-American forward, Luke Maye (now at North Carolina) won’t be easy in the brutal, MECKA 4A conference. But Coach Jason Grube has plenty of talent back – led by sophomore guard, Qon Murphy – and has a knack for getting the most out of his players.
Chazz Surratt, East Lincoln, 6-5, Sr., G and Sage Surratt, 6-3 East Lincoln, Jr., G: Chazz (20 ppg, 8.8 apg, North Carolina football recruit) and Sage Surratt (24.6 ppg, 9 rpg, major Division I football/basketball recruit) give the Mustangs two of the state’s most versatile players. The brothers have led East Lincoln to 48 wins in the last two seasons. After losing in the state finals last year, they want nothing less than a state title in their final high school season together.
Davion Mintz, North Mecklenburg, 6-4, Sr., PG: Creighton commit has the size and talent to dominate a game, and makes a dynamic duo with 6-foot-7 forward, Jaylen McManus on the inside who makes the Vikings’ one of the top teams in the state.
Kody Shubert, Lincoln Charter, 5-11, So., PG: The Eagles’ all-conference, all-region point performer (19.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, 4.7 spg) is already considered one of the top point guards in the country in his class, according to recruiting analyst, Bob Gibbons, and has a chance to lead his team to new heights.
Qon Murphy, Hough, 6-4, So., G/F: The Husky guard impressed as an freshman (10 ppg) earning all-conference honors, but will now be expected to play a lead role as the only returning starter on a team that will look to speed up the tempo.
Nick Worthy, Lake Norman Charter, Sr. G: The Knights’ senior (10 ppg last year) will have to step into a lead role if the Knights are going to stay near the top of the Big South conference and be a factor in the postseason.
Players on the Rise
Riley Jones, Lake Norman, 6-11, Sr., C: The Lake Norman center has the size to dominate and will be counted on to with teammates like guard Shawn Angelucci on a Wildcat team that lost all five starters from 4A regional semifinalist squad.
Myles McGregor, Davidson Day, 6-2, Sr., G: The Patriots’ guard had a breakout season (17 ppg), but will have to play an even bigger role this season if Davidson Day can come closing to matching their 20 wins from a year ago.
Brian Stanley, Christ the King, 6-2, Jr., G: The Crusaders’ guard can score in bunches (18.7 ppg) and now looks to prove it on a bigger stage as they enter the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association.
John McKibbin, Community School of Davidson, 6-1, Sr., PG: The Spartans’ senior is a two-time all-conference pick and looks to help his team compete for an South Piedmont 1A conference crown.
Jay Davis, Mooresville, 6-5, Jr., F: The Blue Devils were 12-4 last year before Davis (10 ppg) went down with an ACL injury. His return some time around Christmas break, according to Coach Michael Micklow, could give Mooresville the boost they need to contend for an NPC title.
East Lincoln at Lincolnton, Dec. 15: The Mustangs could be in a tough spot against their archrival, Wolves, as this is just the third game of the regular season with the East Lincoln football players, like the Surratt brothers, potentially just coming off a state championship game.
Mooresville at Lake Norman, Jan. 15 and Lake Norman at Mooresville, Feb. 9: Both meetings between these bitter rivals will likely be a major factor in who wins the North Piedmont conference.
East Lincoln vs. South Mecklenburg, Jan. 23 at Time Warner Cable Arena: The Mustangs get a chance to prove themselves on the Charlotte Hornets’ home floor against a traditional, 4A power in South Meck.
West Charlotte at North Mecklenburg, Jan. 26: If the Vikings want to win the MECKA 4A title, they will have to hold serve at home against the defending champion, Lions.
North Mecklenburg at Hopewell, Jan. 29: There’s always a lot at stake when one of state’s best basketball rivalries put it all on the line for conference and neighborhood bragging rights.
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.