Five Teams To Watch
Cannon School: NCISAA state semifinalist was 21-11 last season and returns three starters, including all-conference star Qon Murphy, a 6-foot-6 senior who has numerous Division I offers.
Carmel Christian: Coach Byron Dinkins’ team was 21-6 last year and reached the NCISAA 2A state finals. Four starters return, plus 6-7 Union Academy transfer Jake Boggs and 6-3 Covenant Day transfer Josh Price. Price, a Liberty commit, is the son of Charlotte 49ers coach and former NBA star Mark Price.
Charlotte Christian: The Knights were 22-8 last season and lost all-state forward B.J. Mack, who is playing his junior year at Oak Hill. South Meck transfer Paul Hudson, a 6-6, 215-pound junior forward, will help Christian stay in the CISAA championship discussion.
Community School of Davidson: Three starters -- Konrad Christian, Brandon Ellington, Sage Alexander -- return from a 21-9 team that should compete for the new PAC-7 1A championship.
Lincoln Charter: 1A state champs were 31-3 last season and return five starters. The backcourt tandem of Kody Shubert and Jackson Gabriel combined to averaged nearly 40 points per game and is one of the region’s best.
Five Players To Watch
Donovan Gregory, Carmel Christian, 6-4, Jr., F: All-state pick averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds last season, pushing his team to a 21-6 record.
Jairus Hamilton, Cannon School, 6-8, Sr, W: The reigning Charlotte Observer regional player of the year, Hamilton is a top 50 national recruit who averaged 23 points last season.
KC Hankton, United Faith, 6-8, Sr., F: All-state pick averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds last season.
Madison Monroe, SouthLake Christian, 6-3, Sr., G: All-state as a junior, Monroe averaged 22 points. He has committed to Army.
Blake Preston, Charlotte Christian, 6-9, Sr, F: All-conference star has committed to Liberty and will team with returning starter J.C. Tharrington, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, to form one of area’s best 1-2 punches.
Cheik Traoie, Concord First Assembly, 6-8, So, F: All-state forward Stephen Edoka (15 ppg) gets lots of attention, but Traoie, coaches and recruiting coordinators say, will be a star. Traoie, who has turned heads -- and broken at least one backboard in preseason -- will play a key role on a team that was 22-11 last season and returns two starters. Coach Frank Cantadore’s team has averaged 24 wins per season for the past five years.
Cyncier Harrison, Davidson Day, 5-10, Fr, PG: Averaged 14 points, three assists as an eighth-grader on varsity and returns this season with 6-8 sophomore C.J. Huntley.
Tony Hauser, Northside Christian, 6-8, Jr., F: Northside Christian, once a state power, hopes to return to prominence this season. Senior Jon Hicklin (17 ppg, 7 rpg last season) is a Division I recruit, but Hauser has turned heads in preseason.
Marcus Henderson, Statesville Christian, 6-2, Jr., G: Former Olympic High guard joins experienced Statesville Christian team and coach JD Johnson believes he could be poised for a breakout year.
▪ United Faith, 25-5 last season, returns four starters and added 6-5 Charlotte United Christian transfer Jalen Sims, who has more than 20 Division I offers, and 6-10 Myers Park transfer Nate Springs, who has committed to Ohio.
▪ Four starters return for Gaston Day, which was 23-4 last season and reached the state semifinals. All-state point guard Nate Hinton, a Houston recruit, is joined by College of Charleston commit Quan McCluney and MJ Armstrong, who averaged 15 points last season. The Spartans will challenge for a very competitive NCISAA 2A state title.
▪ After its first losing season since 2011, Charlotte Latin has three starters back from a 10-16 team, including promising 6-5 sophomore Bennett Smith.
▪ Charlotte Country Day hasn’t been in the CISAA league title race in several years, but with four starters back from an 11-16 team, the Bucs have two college recruits in juniors Alex Tabor and DeAngelo Epps, and hopes to challenge the conference’s elite this year.
▪ Providence Day’s boys, led by all-state Kansas recruit Devon Dotson and all-state Santa Clara recruit Trey Wertz, will take a two-week trip to China in December, and again face one of the state’s toughest schedules. The Chargers have won five straight CISAA conference titles, reached three straight NCISAA 3A final fours and won the state title in 2016.
▪ Hickory Grove was 14-12 last season, its first winning campaign since 2012-13. Hickory Grove had won seven games in the previous two years combined. Three starters return for coach Jim Rhodes in senior guards Austin Hadden, K.J. Freeman and Jaylyn Hargett-Boyce.
▪ Queens Grant has won 51 games the past three years and hopes to challenge in the new PAC-7 confrence with four starters back, including 6-3 junior point guard Jah’Quez Sanders (11 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg). ...Statesville Christian, 21-11 last season, returns its 1-2 punch of senior Brennan Settle (19.5 ppg) and sophomore Christian Bailey (15 ppg, 8 rpg)
▪ Remember Victory Christian? The former state powerhouse was 16-5 last season and has two 6-9 players in the rotation, senior Ngoye Bob Manuel and junior Felix Gue. ...Pine Lake Prep returns four starters to try to improve on last year’s 19-9 record. Among them are seniors Alex Cluff (19 ppg, 9 rpg) and Eito Yominami (10 ppg, 7 apg).