High School Sports

Mecklenburg County boys basketball team previews

Carmel Christian’s boys basketball team reached the NCISAA 2A state championship game last season
Carmel Christian’s boys basketball team reached the NCISAA 2A state championship game last season

Here are previews for boys basketball programs in the Observer’s coverage area in Mecklenburg County. The profiles were put together by Observer correspondent Jay Edwards.

To see more county previews, visit this link

ARDREY KELL

Head Coach: Michael Craft (12th year as Ardrey Kell basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 187-120.

2016-17 Record: 15-12 (9-5 in the SoMeck8 Conference).

2017-18 Conference: SoMeck7 Conference/4A.

Returning Starters (3): David Kasanganay, Sr., G (6-1); Harper Hendricks, Sr., G (6-3); Christian Pickens, Jr., F (6-5). Key Newcomers: Luke Stankavage, So. G (6-1) (Providence Day transfer); Stephen Sherrill, Jr., G/F (6-2) (Hopewell transfer).

Outlook: After averaging 25 wins per season from 2012-2015, Ardrey Kell has come back to earth in the last two seasons, going 28-26 in that span. This year, the Knights returns three starters, led by senior sharpshooters, David Kasanganay (14 ppg) and Harper Hendricks, who will get a big boost from transfers, Stephen Sherrill (Hopewell transfer) and Luke Stankavage (Providence Day transfer). Coach Michael Craft has made a career out of getting the most out of his talent, and no one will be surprised to see Ardrey Kell right in the thick of the SoMeck7 conference race. The Knights will also be a tough team to deal with in the postseason with their depth and shooting ability on the perimeter.

--JAY EDWARDS

BERRY ACADEMY

Head Coach: Maurice Jones (6th year as Berry basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 87-50.

2016-17 Record: 7-18 (5-9 in the SoMeck8 Conference).

2017-18 Conference: SoMeck7 Conference.

Returning Starters (3): Maurice Brown, So., G (6-0); Webster Filmore, Sr., F (6-6); Anjay Cortez, Jr., G/F (6-6). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Berry returns eight varsity letterman, led by all-conference sophomore, Brown (15 ppg), junior Cortez (6 ppg) and senior, Filmore (8 ppg, 9 rpg), but will still be a very young and inexperienced team. However, Coach Jones believes the Cardinals have the talent to move back up the SoMeck7 standings and be a factor in the postseason.

--JAY EDWARDS

BIBLE BAPTIST

Head Coach: Jack Heyboer.

2016-17 Record: 7-10 (3-5 in NCCSA, District 3).

2017-18 Conference: NCCSA District 3.

Returning Starters (2): Nathan Wade, Jr., G/F (6-2); Seth Daulton, Sr., PG (5-9). Key Newcomers: Davis Clark, Jr., G (5-10).

Outlook: The Colts return two starters from a team that went 7-10, led by their backcourt in Daulton and Wade. Bible Baptist looks to get above .500 and make another postseason run (advanced to the round of 16 last year).

--JAY EDWARDS

BRADFORD PREP

Head Coach: Eric Bramlett (3rd year as Bradford Prep basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 7-12.

2017-18 Conference: Piedmont Athletic Conference 7 (PAC 7/1A).

Returning Starters (4): Logan Fisher, Jr., F (6-2); Jake Price, Jr., F (6-3); Amir Strickland, So., G (5-9); Jay Edwards, So., G (5-4). Key Newcomers: Malique Stanley, So., F; Kyjuan Barksdale, Fr., G/F (6-0); Saadiq Horton, So., G (5-10).

Outlook: Bradford Prep will play its first varsity season ever without seniors, and will likely go through the typical growing pains associated with a team in its inaugural campaign.

The Bears have some promising young talent from the J.V. team a year ago in Fisher (8 ppg), and Price (6 ppg) to help get the Bradford Prep basketball program started on the right foot. But nothing is going to come easy in the ultra-competitive, PAC 7/1A, where the Bears will likely finish in the bottom of the league this year.

--JAY EDWARDS

BUTLER

Head Coach: Myron Lowery (4th year as Butler basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 292-248

2016-17 Record: 30-1 (14-0 in the Southwestern 4A conference).

2017-18 Conference: Southwestern 4A conference

Returning Starters (2): Gerrale Gates, Sr., F (6-6, 235); D.J. Little, Sr., G (6-2, 190). Key Newcomers: Isaiah Richards, Jr., F (6-9, 216/South Shores (NY) transfer); Raquan Brown, Jr., G (6-4, 202/Rocky River transfer).

Outlook: Butler has won 77 games in the last three seasons, including a 30-1 record a season ago when they lost on a buzzer-beater in the 4A state semifinals. With that bad taste in their mouths, Coach Myron Lowery and company are sure to be motivated. The three-time, SW4A conference champions have the talent -- led by seniors, Gerrale Gates (University of New Orleans) and D.J. Little (Queens University commit) and transfers, Raquan Brown (Rocky River) and Isaiah Richards (South Shores (NY)) – to be a serious 4A state championship contender, again.

--JAY EDWARDS

CARMEL CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Byron Dinkins (2nd year as Carmel Christian basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 187-26.

2016-17 Record: 21-6 (10-1 in the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA)).

2017-18 Conference: Southern Piedmont Athletic Association/NCISAA 2A.

Returning Starters (4): Donovon Gregory, Jr., G (6-4); Myles Pierre, Jr., G (6-3); Marten Maide, Jr., G/F (6-4); Greg McDonald, Sr., F/C (6-8). Key Newcomers: Josh Price, Sr., G (6-3) (Liberty University commit); Jake Boggs, Jr., F (6-7) (Union Academy transfer); Jonathan Murphy, Jr., G (5-10).

Outlook: Carmel Christian has 44 games in the last two seasons, including a trip to the 2017, NCISAA 2A state championship game. This year, they have both the experience and talent to be even better team with all-state guard, Gregory (23 ppg, 11 rpg) junior, Pierre (6-3), and transfers in Price (Covenant Day transfer) and Boggs (Union Academy basketball transfer) returning with a singular focus on getting back to the state championship game, and this time finishing it off with a (win) championship.

--JAY EDWARDS

CHARLOTTE CATHOLIC

Head Coach: Mike King (10th year as Charlotte Catholic basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 149-94.

2016-17 Record: 16-12 (10-4 in SoMeck8 Conference).

2017-18 Conference: Southern Carolinas’ Conference (SCC)/3A.

Returning Starters (5): Riley Berger, Sr., G (6-1); Matt Ciccone, Sr., F (6-7); Adam Robbe, Jr., G (6-0); Luke Harkins, Sr., G (5-11); Nick Scibelli, Sr., G (6-3).

Other Key Returnees: Garrett McKinstry, Sr., G (6-1); Sean Rogan, Sr., G (6-0). Outlook: Charlotte Catholic returns all five starters, including four seniors in Berger (7 ppg), Ciccone (7 ppg), Harkins (8 ppg) and Scibelli. Expect Charlotte Catholic to challenge for a SCC title in their first year in the league. The Cougars will also be a team no one wants to play in the postseason -- with a balanced, senior heavy lineup -- a familiar formula that also helped them win the 2016, 4A state championship.

--JAY EDWARDS

CHARLOTTE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Shonn Brown (17th year as Charlotte Christian basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 371-157

2016-17 Record: 22-8 (6-4 in the CISAA).

2017-18 Conference: CISAA

Returning Starters (2): J.C. Tharrington, Jr., PG (6-1, 165); Blake Preston, Sr., F/C (6-9, 245).

Other Key Returnees: Terrelle Brown, Sr., G (5-11, 175); Seth Bennett, Jr., G (6-3, 175); Garrett Shrader, Jr., G/F (6-5, 215); Efose E-Udosomwan, Jr., G (6-2, 165) Key Newcomers: Paul Hudson, Jr., G/F (6-6, 215/South Mecklenburg transfer);

Outlook: Coach Shonn Brown and his Charlotte Christian basketball team have established themselves as perennial state contenders, once again. This season, the Knights are loaded with talent from junior point guard, J.C. Tharrington to seniors Blake Preston (Liberty University commit), Terrelle Brown and Seth Bennett as well as South Meck transfer, Paul Hudson. Charlotte Christian has the players and depth to compete in the brutal CISAA conference (with powers, Providence Day, Cannon) and make a deep run into the state playoffs.

--JAY EDWARDS

CHARLOTTE COUNTRY DAY

Head Coach: Dwayne Cherry (8th year as Charlotte Country Day basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 80-114.

2016-17 Record: 11-16 (3-7 in the CISAA Conference).

2017-18 Conference: CISAA Conference/NCISAA 3A.

Returning Starters (4): DeAngelo Epps, Jr., G (6-5); Alex Tabor, Jr., G (6-0); Rylan McLaurin, Jr., PG (5-9); Myles Browner, Jr., G (5-11). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Charlotte Country Day has the experience and talent, with four starters back led by juniors in Epps (12 ppg, 5 rpg) and Rylan McLaurin (11 ppg, 5 rpg). However, the Bucs must do battle in one of the toughest leagues in the state (CISAA), Providence Day, Cannon School and Charlotte Christian amongst the best teams in the state. Charlotte Country Day will look to continue to move their basketball program in the right direction, and hope it shows up more frequently in the win column, hopefully leading to a postseason berth.

--JAY EDWARDS

CHARLOTTE LATIN

Head Coach: Chris Berger (9th Year as Charlotte Latin basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 125-86.

2016-17 Record: 10-16 (4-6 in CISAA Conference).

2017-18 Conference: CISAA Conference/NCISAA 3A.

Returning Starters (3): John Beecy, Jr., G (6-2); J.P. Smith, Sr., G (6-2); Bennett Smith, So., F (6-5).

Other Key Returnees: R.J. Johnson, So., G (5-9); Jack Felkner, Sr., F (6-4); Charlie Herrmann, Sr., G (5-9). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Charlotte Latin had their first losing season since 2010-11, and life won’t get any easier in one of the state’s toughest conferences, the CISAA. But Coach Berger has proven he can get the most out of his teams, and with three starters back in Beecy (9.5 ppg), J.P. Smith (6.5 ppg) and Bennett Smith (7.5 ppg) and the return of Jack Felkner (from injury), Charlotte Latin looks to stay in the middle of the league standings and get back to the playoffs.

--JAY EDWARDS

CHRIST THE KING

Head Coach: Stephen Clapp (2nd year as Christ the King basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 11-15.

2016-17 Record: 10-14 (5-6 in the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA)).

2017-18 Conference: Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA)/NCISAA 2A.

Returning Starters (3): Brian Buchsbaum, Sr., F/C (6-6); Carney Butterfield, Sr., F/C (6-5); John Kohn, Jr., F (6-4). Key Newcomers: Drew Hendershott, Fr. G (6-1); Jack Zuhosky, So., G (5-10); Nick Todd, So., G (6-0).

Outlook: After back-to-back winning seasons, Christ the King dropped to 10-14 last year. However, the Crusaders return three starters with a lot of size in 6-foot-6, Buchsbaum (8 ppg, 7 rpg), 6-foot-5, Butterfield, and the 6-foot-4, Kohn. Coach Clapp will need some guards to emerg as playmakers if his Christ the King team is going to get on the good side of .500 and get back into the playoff contention.

--JAY EDWARDS

COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF DAVIDSON

Head Coach: Jackie Drakeford (4th year as Comm. School of Davidson basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 49-36.

2016-17 Record: 21-9 (13-3 in the South Piedmont 1A Conference (SPC 1A)).

2017-18 Conference: Piedmont Athletic Conference 7 (PAC 7A)/1A.

Returning Starters (3): Konrad Christian, Sr., SF (6-8); Brandon Ellington, Jr., SG (6-2); Sage Alexander, Jr., PG (5-9).

Other Key Returnees: Graham Martin, Sr., F (6-4); Ryan Renshaw, Jr., G (5-11). Key Newcomers: Harrison Hosse, Jr., SG (6-1).

Outlook: The Spartans return three starters in Christian (11 ppg), Ellington (12 ppg) and Alexander (5 ppg) from a 21-win squad that advanced to the 3rd round of the 1A state playoffs a year ago. Coach Drakeford has the combination of experience and talent to post a 20-plus victory season, contend for the new, PAC 7 conference title.

--JAY EDWARDS

COVENANT DAY

Head Coach: Marty Parrish (1st year as Covenant Day basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 3-19 (0-10 in the CISAA)

2017-18 Conference: CISAA/NCISAA 3A.

Returning Starters (0): None.

Other Key Returnees: Malik Beatty, Sr., F; Drew Patterson, So., PG; Jacob Dahlberg, So., F. Key Newcomers: Landon King, Jr.; Caleb Ross, Jr.

Outlook: This year’s Covenant Day will be extremely young under 1st year coach, Marty Parrish, which is not the recipe for success in one’s of the state’s best conferences (CISAA). But this hardworking group, led by senior Malik Beatty, will try to fight to get the Lions’ basketball program going back in the right direction.

--JAY EDWARDS

DAVIDSON DAY

Head Coach: Jeff Coble (4th year as Davidson Day basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 33-50.

2016-17 Record: 6-19 (NCISAA 2A/Independent).

2017-18 Conference: None/NCISAA 2A Independent.

Returning Starters (2): Gavin Richard, Sr., G/F (6-1); Cyncier Harrison, Fr., PG (5-10).

Other Key Returnees: C.J. Huntley, So., F (6-8); Will Coble, So., G (6-1); Mark Breunig, So., F (6-6); Matthew Hines, Sr., G (6-1). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Davidson Day averaged 20 wins per season from 2009-15, but only has 10 wins in the last two years combined. Coach Jeff Coble will have a young team again, but the Patriots have some building blocks in freshman point guard, Harrison (14 ppg 3 apg as an 8th-grader on varsity), sophomores in Coble (15 ppg on junior varsity), Huntley (6-foot-8) and Breunig (6-foot-6) to help them get back to their winning ways and into postseason play.

--JAY EDWARDS

EAST MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: Vincent Moore (4th year as East Mecklenburg basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 25-48 at East Mecklenburg.

2016-17 Record: 13-13 (7-5 in the Southwestern 4A (SW4A) Conference).

2017-18 Conference: Southwestern 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (0): None. Key Newcomers: Patrick Scott, Sr., G/F (6-4); Domonique Ellerbe, Jr., G (6-1).

Outlook: East Mecklenburg made the playoffs for the 1st time since the 2012-13 season last year, going 13-13 overall. But it’s going to be a tough task to have a winning record or get back to the postseason as the Eagles lost 10 players to graduation and don’t return any starters. East Meck will likely finish near the bottom of an even tougher, SW4A with Hickory Ridge joining the league.

--JAY EDWARDS

GARINGER

Head Coach: Jordan Yawn (2nd year as Garinger basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 38-28.

2016-17 Record: 4-21 (1-11 in the Southwestern 4A Conference (SW4A)).

2017-18 Conference: Southwestern 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (3): Jayden Gamble, Jr., F (6-3); Moza Kamara, Jr., G (5-10); Tyree McIntyre, Jr., PG (5-5). Key Newcomers: Shyheed Williams, Jr., G (6-4); Drew Ford, Sr., G (6-1).

Outlook: Garinger hasn’t had a winning season in more than a decade, including a 4-21 finish a year ago. The Wildcats will have a tough time moving from the bottom of the SW4A standings with a host of role players returning to the lineup.

--JAY EDWARDS

HARDING

Head Coach: Walt Aikens (15th year as Harding basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 5-20 (4-10 in the SoMeck8 Conference).

2017-18 Conference: SoMeck7 Conference/4A.

Returning Starters (4): Arvydas Jones, Sr., PG (5-10); Brian Ross, Sr., SG (6-2); Deandre Allen, Sr., G/F (6-2); Quinten Thomas, Jr., G (6-3). Key Newcomers: Rodjrick Alexander, Jr., G (6-4); Tyson Bowman, So., G (5-8); Kobe Funderburk, G (5-8).

Outlook: Harding has only posted one winning season in the last four years and struggled last year going 5-20. But, Coach Walt Aikens returns four starters, led by three seniors in Allen (8 ppg), Jones (10 ppg), Ross (12 ppg) and one junior in Thomas (9 ppg). The Rams have the balance, experience and talent to get right back in the SoMeck7 conference race and the playoffs, where their guard-heavy team will make Harding a tough postseason matchup.

--JAY EDWARDS

HICKORY GROVE

Head Coach: Jim Rhodes (2nd year as Hickory Grove basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 14-12 (6-4 in the Metrolina Athletic Conference (MAC)).

2017-18 Conference: Metrolina Athletic Conference/NCISAA 3A.

Returning Starters (3): Austin Hadden, Sr., G (6-3); K.J. Freeman, Sr., G (6-1); Jaylyn Hargett-Boyce, Sr., G (5-10).

Other Key Returnees: Jaelen Whitley, Jr. Key Newcomers: A.J. Smith, Fr., G (6-2).

Outlook: Coach Jim Rhodes helped guide the Hickory Grove to their first winning season since 2012-13, winning 14 games, after the Lions won seven games in the previous two years combined. Hickory Grove returns seven players, including three starters led by senior guards in Freeman and Hadden, which will give them a good chance to move up the MAC standings and get back into playoff contention.

--JAY EDWARDS

HOPEWELL

Head Coach: Michael McNeill (2nd year as Hopewell basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 12-12 (3-9 in the MECKA 4A Conference).

2017-18 Conference: I-Meck 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (4): Zack Dixon, Sr., G (6-1); Brice Williams, Jr., G (6-7); Alvin Cannady, Jr., F (6-7); Micale Harris, Sr., F/C (6-8). Key Newcomers: Marshall Robinson, Jr., PG (6-0); Amari McKellar, Jr., PG (5-8); Kendyl Lloyd, Jr., G (6-0); Donovan Jones, Jr., G/F (6-3); Jaylen Thorpe, Jr., G/F (6-3).

Outlook: Hopewell was up and down last season at 12-12. But with a dominant backcourt, Dixon, Harris and Williams, they are ready to make a move in the I-Meck 4A and beyond.

--JAY EDWARDS

HOUGH

Head Coach: Jason Grube (4th year as Hough basketball coach; 18th year overall).

Coaching Career Record: 267-209.

2016-17 Record: 12-14 (5-7 in the MECKA 4A Conference).

2017-18 Conference: I-Meck 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (3): Myles Washington, Sr., F (6-6); Cooper Crawford, Sr., G (6-0); Damon Early, Sr., F (6-3).

Other Key Returnees: Chase Praeger, Sr., PG (5-8); Jibril McCormick, Jr., G/F (6-5); Cameron Montague, Sr., F (6-2). Key Newcomers: Beau Maye, So., F (6-8); James Simples, So., G (6-2).

Outlook: Hough slipped under .500 at 12-14 and missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. This, Coach Grube and company look to stay healthy, led by the senior trio of Cooper, Early (6.3 rpg) and Washington (10 ppg), move back into I-Meck 4A conference contention. Hough has some intriguing prospects in Beau Maye (Luke Maye’s younger brother) and McCormick, which should help the Huskies back to the playoffs, where they have the talent to make a postseason run.

--JAY EDWARDS

INDEPENDENCE

Head Coach: Preston Davis (9th year as Independence basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 106-107.

2016-17 Record: 22-7 (10-2 in the Southwestern 4A (SW4A) Conference).

2017-18 Conference: Southwestern 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (0): None.

Other Key Returnees: Jamarius Burton, Sr., G/F (6-5); Jordan Mobley, Sr., G (5-10); Matthew Smith, Jr., F (6-6); Andra McKee, Jr., G (6-3); Raja Milton, Jr., G (5-11). Key Newcomers: Mike Mason, So., G (5-10) (East Mecklenburg transfer).

Outlook: Coach Preston Davis and his Independence have proven to be consistent winners, averaging 19 win per season over the last five years. But after losing all five starters, the Patriots have their work cut out for them to keep their winning ways. The return of senior, Burton, who missed all of last season (ACL injury), gives Independence a centerpiece to build around. If Burton can find consistent scoring help, the Patriots should be able to get back in the SW4A title hunt and should be a more cohesive group once they get to the postseason.

--JAY EDWARDS

LAKE NORMAN CHARTER

Head Coach: Aaron Reeves (7th year as Lake Norman Charter basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 21-8 (12-2 in the Big South Conference).

2017-18 Conference: South Fork 2A Conference.

Returning Starters (2): Connor Reed, Sr., SG (6-1); Noah Allen, Jr., PG (5-8). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Lake Norman Charter lost the core of a team that has won 61 games in the last three years -- in Grayson Hickert (18 ppg) and Troy Cracknell (19 ppg) – to graduation. This season, Coach Reeves and company will lean on their backcourt in Allen (8 ppg, 4 apg) and Reed (12 ppg) to help the Knights keep pace in the tough, new South Fork 2A conference and get into favorable playoff position.

--JAY EDWARDS

MALLARD CREEK

Head Coach: Jason Causby (1st year as Mallard Creek basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 174-111.

2016-17 Record: 18-8 (8-4 in the MECKA 4A Conference).

2017-18 Conference: I-Meck 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (1): Demetri Dixon, Jr., PG (6-0).

Other Key Returnees: Kyle Austin, Sr., G (6-1); Tyler Osifo, Sr., F/C (6-5). Key Newcomers: Justin Taylor, Fr., G (6-1).

Outlook: 1st-year, Mallard Creek coach, Jason Causby, has a winning reputation on the high school and college levels (Former Pfeiffer University assistant. But this season, the Mavericks will have to reload quickly if they want compete in the brutal, I-Meck 4A conference. Finishing in the top half of the league standings and making the playoffs would be a big accomplishment.

--JAY EDWARDS

MYERS PARK

Head Coach: Scott Taylor (2nd year as Myers Park basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 11-14 (3-9 in Southwestern 4A Conference).

2017-18 Conference: Southwestern 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (2): John Ingram, Sr., F (6-2); Duwe Farris, Jr., F (6-6). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: After three straight winning seasons, Myers Park slipped to 11-14 last year and missed the playoffs. The Mustangs now look to senior forward, Ingram (9 ppg) and junior, Farris, to help work their way back up the SW4A ladder and back into playoff position. But Myers Park will need some younger players to step up in bigger roles to get back on a winning track.

--JAY EDWARDS

NORTH MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: Duane Lewis (19th year as North Mecklenburg basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 24-4 (10-2 to win the MECKA 4A Conference championship).

2017-18 Conference: I-Meck 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (3): Jae’Lyn Withers, Jr., SF (6-9); Tristan Maxwell, So., G (6-3); KaVaudrick "Vaud" Worthy, Sr., G (6-2).

Other Key Returnees: Yancey Hairston, Sr., F (6-5); Jabril Griffin, Sr., G (6-1); Tyren Clark, Sr., G/F (6-4); Maleek Luckey, Sr., G (5-11); Corben Strother, Sr., F (6-5); Demarr Anderson, So., G (6-1). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Coach Duane Lewis and the Vikings have averaged 24 wins per season, winning three of the last four conference titles. North Mecklenburg has another loaded team, led by their version of the big three in major Division I recruits in Maxwell (14 ppg), Withers (19 ppg, 9 rpg) and Worthy (10 ppg, 8 apg). While this Vikings’ team’s first goal will be to win the conference title, they are eager to prove they can playing for a state championship in March, and have experience and talent to go all the way.

--JAY EDWARDS

NORTHSIDE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Erasto Hatchett (2nd year as Northside Christian basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 9-14 (4-6 in the Metrolina Athletic Conference (MAC)).

2017-18 Conference: Metrolina Athletic Conference/NCISAA 2A.

Returning Starters (2): Jonathan Hicklin, Sr., G (6-4); Jaden Seymore, So., F (6-7).

Other Key Returnees: Tyler Harris, Jr., G (6-6); Cortez Holmes, Jr., G (6-5); Tony Hauser, Jr., F (6-8); Glenn Bynum, Fr., G (6-3); Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Knights posted seven, 20-win seasons between 2009-2016, but slipped to 9-14 last year with a young team. Northside Christian will still have a young team again with senior guard, Hicklin (17 ppg, 7 rpg) and sophomore forward, Seymore (10 ppg, 6 rpg), leading this Northside Christian team try to move up the league standings and into playoff position, which won’t be easy in the ultra-competitive MAC.

--JAY EDWARDS

OLYMPIC

Head Coach: Baronton Terry (2nd year as Olympic basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 19-8 (14-0 to win the SoMeck8 Conference championship).

2017-18 Conference: SoMeck7 Conference/4A.

Returning Starters (3): Jalen Harris, Sr., F (6-4); Jalen Barr, Jr., F (6-3); Josh Banks, So., G (6-2). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Trojans had a tale of two seasons last year, as they were 6-6 coming out of the Christmas holiday break. Coach Bartonton Terry led his Olympic team to victory in 13 of the next 15 games, winning the SoMeck8 conference regular season and tournament titles with a perfect 14-0 league mark. However, a 1st-round playoff loss to Rocky River left a bad taste in their mouths this summer. Olympic believes they can win another conference title and be a factor much deeper into the playoffs with senior forward, Harris (16), junior forward, Barr and sophomore guard, Banks, leading the way for an experienced squad.

--JAY EDWARDS

PROVIDENCE

Head Coach: Larry Epperly (2nd year as Providence basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 0-24 (0-14 in the SoMeck8 Conference).

2017-18 Conference: SoMeck7 Conference/4A.

Returning Starters (3): Pat Sullivan, Sr., G (6-2); Tate Mulkey, Jr., G (6-2); Ben Schloeder, Jr., G (5-9). Key Newcomers: Jake Brockman, So., F (6-4); Will Cotton, Jr., G (6-1); Christian Peterson, So., C (6-5).

Outlook: Providence has lost 26 straight games, including a 0-24 mark last season. The Panther will still boast an extremely young team with five sophomores and a freshman on the varsity squad. But with an experienced backcourt in Mulkey, Schloeder and Sullivan, the Providence looks to be a much more competitive team. Getting back in the win column a few times will help get the Panthers’ basketball going back in a positive direction.

--JAY EDWARDS

PROVIDENCE DAY

Head Coach: Brian Field (12th year as Providence Day basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 203-128.

2016-17 Record: 23-11 (9-1 in CISAA Conference), NCISAA 3A State semifinals.

2017-18 Conference: CISAA Conference.

Returning Starters (5): Devon Dotson, Sr., PG (6-2) (Kansas commit); Trey Wertz, Sr., SG (6-5) (Santa Clara University commit); Isaac Suffren, Sr., G (6-3); Kyle Wood, Sr., G (5-11); John Miralia, So., F (6-6).

Other Key Returnees: Jacolbe Cowan, So., F (6-6).

Outlook: Providence Day returns arguably the best backcourt in the state in seniors, Devon Dotson (Kansas commit, 24.4 ppg) and Trey Wertz (Santa Clara University commit, 18.3 ppg) that are capable of scoring in bunches and carrying their team at any time. The Chargers also have great role players like Suffren, Wood and more, who fit into their system.

While Providence Day takes on a brutal, national and even international schedule (China trip), expect Coach Brian Field and company -- to be battle-tested and ready to battle for another CISAA conference title -- and be a serious contender for a NCISAA 3A state championship, again (2016 state champion, 2017 state semifinalist).

--JAY EDWARDS

QUEENS GRANT

Head Coach: Jay Forsythe (5th year as Queens Grant basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 64-38.

2016-17 Record: 13-11 (7-3 in the Uwharrie Athletic Conference).

2017-18 Conference: Piedmont Athletic Conference 7 (PAC 7)/1A.

Returning Starters (4): Jah’Quez Sanders, Jr., PG (6-3); Xavier Westbrook, Jr., F (6-3); Khalil Chapman, Sr., F (6-5); Jeremiah Murphy, So., G/F (6-5). Key Newcomers: A.J. Gallagher, Sr. F (6-6); Prince Lemon, Sr. G (5-10); L.B. Boyette, So., G (6-4).

Outlook: Queens Grant has established itself as a consistent winner with 51 victories in the last three seasons. This year, Coach Forsythe and company should be a contender in the new, PAC 7 (1A) led by junior point guard, Sanders (11 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg), forwards, Chapman (7 ppg) and Westbrook (6 ppg, 6 rpg). The Stallions wil also look to make a 1A playoff run after advancing to the 2nd round a year ago.

--JAY EDWARDS

ROCKY RIVER

Head Coach: Jason Moseley (1st year as Rocky River basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 18-11 (6-6 in the Southwestern 4A Conference).

2017-18 Conference: Southwestern 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (3): Jaden Springer, So. G (6-4); Marcus Evans, Sr., G (6-1); Darlinstone Dunbar, Jr., F (6-5). Key Newcomers: Jordan Campbell, Sr., G (5-11) (Mallard Creek transfer).

Outlook: Rocky River peaked at right time in February last season, advancing to the 3rd round of the 4A state playoffs. The Ravens should be even better than their 18-win season from a year ago, with Division I prospects in guard, Springer (22 ppg) and Mallard Creek transfer, Campbell (led Mavericks with 19.5 ppg last year) leading a dynamic backcourt that can play with anyone. Just how good the Ravens can be in the Southwestern 4A and into the playoffs, will depend on how their frontcourt, led by junior, Darlinstone, develops. But Rocky River has the firepower to be a dangerous team by February.

--JAY EDWARDS

SOUTHLAKE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Rodney Monroe (7th year as SouthLake Christian basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 15-12 (7-3 in the Metrolina Athletic Conference (MAC)).

2017-18 Conference: Metrolina Athletic Conference/NCISAA 3A.

Returning Starters (3): Madison Monroe, Sr., G (6-3); Deon Haughton, Sr., G (6-2); Hunter Smith, Sr., F (6-5). Key Newcomers: Zion Hendrix, Sr., PG (5-9); Jalen Celestin, So., G (6-4).

Outlook: SouthLake Christian has been trending in the right direction with 62 wins in the last four seasons. This year, the Eagles will look to all-state guard, Monroe (22 ppg) and his backcourt mate, Haughton (11 ppg) to carry the load on a team capable of contending in the MAC and going back to the playoffs where anything can happen in a one-and-done scenario.

--JAY EDWARDS

SOUTH MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: John Fitch (9th year as South Mecklenburg.)

Coaching Career Record: 96-105.

2016-17 Record: 15-12 (9-5 in the SoMeck8 all-conference).

2017-18 Conference: SoMeck7 Conference/4A.

Returning Starters (1): Trey Jackson, Sr., G (6-0).

Other Key Returnees: Kevin Tate, Jr., G (6-2); Chris White, Sr., G (6-0); Donte Wiggins, Jr., G/F (6-3). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: South Mecklenburg was hard hit by graduation and transfers, returning just one starter in point guard, Jackson (4 ppg). The Sabres will have to rely on young talent in the unforgiving, SoMeck7 conference, which will make it tough to finish in the upper echelon of the league and get back to the playoffs. But Coach Fitch annually gets the most out of his team’s talent and will find a way to maximize this group abilities.

--JAY EDWARDS

SUGAR CREEK CHARTER

Head Coach: Lloyd (Clay) Wheeler (2nd year as Sugar Creek Charter basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 75-26.

2016-17 Record: 2-26 (Independent/No Conference).

2017-18 Conference: CAASC Queen City Conference.

Returning Starters (5): Brandon Taylor, Jr., G (5-7); Vernon Alsbrook, Sr., G (5-11); Cameron Covington, Sr., F (6-4); Arron Hernandez, Jr., F (6-2); Latrell Robinson, So., G (6-2). Key Newcomers: Brandon McGill, Jr., F (6-2); Isaiah Morales, Sr., G (6-0); Donte Mack, So., F (6-4).

Outlook: Sugar Creek Charter went through the expected growing pains in their 1st year as a varsity basketball program. In year two, Coach Wheeler returns all five starters, led by seniors Alsbrook and Covington, which they hope will translate into more victories and help continue to grow the program in the right direction.

--JAY EDWARDS

UNITED FAITH ACADEMY

Head Coach: Josh Coley (2nd year as United Faith basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 25-5 (10-2 in the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA)).

2017-18 Conference: SPAA/NCISAA 1A.

Returning Starters (4): Rafael Jenkins, Sr., PG (6-0); Brett Swilling, Sr., G/F (6-6); Jason Thompson, Jr., F (6-7); K.C. Hankton, Sr., F (6-8). Key Newcomers: Jaylen Sims, Sr., G (6-6); Nathan Springs, Sr., F/C (6-10) (Myers Park transfer); Malcolm Wade, Sr., G (6-0).

Outlook: Coach Josh Coley returns four starters from a team that won 25 games and reached the NCISAA 1A state quarterfinals in his first year in charge of the program. This season, the Falcons should be even better with senior trio of Hankton (15 ppg, 10 rpg/all state), Jenkins (12 ppg, 6 apg) and Swilling (12 ppg) back in the lineup joined by transfers in Sims (Charlotte United Christian transfer, 20-plus, Division I offers) and Nathan Springs (Myers Park transfer).

--JAY EDWARDS

VANCE

Head Coach: Brian Frasier (4th year as Vance basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 41-37 at Vance.

2016-17 Record: 21-7 (8-4 in the MECKA 4A Conference).

2017-18 Conference: I-Meck 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (0): None.

Other Key Returnees: Brandon Beidleman, Jr., G (5-10). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Vance has improved steadily each season of Coach Brian Frasier’s tenure going from six wins (2014-15) to 14 wins (2015-16) to a 21 victories last year. But that ascent will be severely tested this year as the Cougars lost eight seniors, including all-state guard, Cam Hamilton (23 ppg). Now, the Cougars must reload led by junior point guard, Brandon Beidleman (6 ppg, 3 apg, 1.5 spg), Vance looks to make their opponents uncomfortable with their up-tempo, guard-oriented approach. But nothing will come easy in an unforgiving, I-Meck 4A conference that is loaded with talent from top to bottom.

--JAY EDWARDS

VICTORY CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Marcus Dilligard (3rd year as Victory Christian basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 16-5 (5-6 in the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA)).

2017-18 Conference: Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA)/NCISAA 1A.

Returning Starters (1): Ngoye Bob Manuel, Sr., C (6-9).

Other Key Returnees: Caleb Smith, Sr., G (5-11). Key Newcomers: Nasan Ayala, Jr., PG (6-3); Felix Gue, Jr., F (6-9); Vasileios Gountopoulus, Jr., SG (6-4).

Outlook: The Kings have the size to matchup with anyone if the state with two 6-foot-9 players in their rotation. But with only one starter back in Bob Manuel in the brutal, SPAA, it will be a tough task for Victory Christian to keep up with their recent pace (21 wins per season last three years) and get back into postseason play. But the Kings will look to reload quickly and keep their winning tradition going strong.

--JAY EDWARDS

WEST CHARLOTTE

Head Coach: Jacoby Davis (2nd year as West Charlotte basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 13-11.

2016-17 Record: 13-11 (7-5 in the MECKA 4A Conference).

2017-18 Conference: I-Meck 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (2): Patrick Williams, Sr. G (6-7); Christian Koonce, Sr., G (6-3). Key Newcomers: Cartier Jernigan, Jr., G (6-1) (Hickory Grove transfer).

Outlook: West Charlotte was up and down last year, finishing 13-11, and a respectable 4th-place in the MECKA 4A conference. This year, with a dynamic backcourt, featuring two, Division I recruits in Williams (14 ppg) and Hickory Grove transfer, Jernignan (17 ppg), West Charlotte should be a factor in the I-Meck 4A conference and into the postseason with two players that can take over a game.

--JAY EDWARDS

WEST MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: Jeffrey Berry (1st year as West Mecklenburg basketball coach; 25th year of coaching overall).

2016-17 Record: 7-18 (5-9 in the SoMeck8 Conference).

2017-18 Conference: SoMeck7 Conference/4A.

Returning Starters (3): Jalen Moore, Sr., PG (5-11); Elijah Lockhart, Sr., F (6-6); Jordan Williams, Sr., SG (6-0).

Other Key Returnees: Nangwayan Anthony, Jr., G (5-11). Key Newcomers: Myran Hamilton, Jr., G (6-0); Xavier Bell, Sr., G/F (6-1).

Outlook: West Mecklenburg’s last winning season came in the 2010-11 campaign, and they have struggled of late going 9-41 in the last two years. But 1st year, West Meck coach (25-veteran coach), Berry, looks to breathe new life into his team with a full-court pressure similar to West Virginia ("Press Virginia"). West Mecklenburg has the players to play a frenetic pace with senior guards, Moore and Williams (12 ppg) and classmate, forward, Lockhart (11 ppg), leading the way for a team that believes it can have a winning season and get back to the playoffs.

--JAY EDWARDS

  Comments