Prep Insider Blog

2016-17 Charlotte Observer high school boys basketball capsules

2016-17 Boys High School Basketball Capsules

Compiled by Jay Edwards

ARDREY KELL

Head Coach: Mike Craft (11th year as Ardrey Kell basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 172-108

2015-16 Record: 13-14 (9-5 in the SoMeck8 conference).

Returning Starters: Wes Morgan, Sr., F (6-7); Jeremy Littlejohn, Sr., F (6-5); Jerod Carrier, Sr., F (6-2).

Other Key Returnees: David Kasanganay, Jr., PG (6-1); Harper Hendricks, Jr., PG (6-2). Key Newcomers: Kameron Flynn, So., F (6-3); Royce Jarrett, So., F (6-4).

Outlook: In what a lot of people thought would be a rebuilding year, Coach Mike Craft still led his Ardrey Kell team to a third-place in the SoMeck8 conference and to second of the 4A state playoffs. With an experienced team back, led by senior forward, Wes Morgan (12 ppg, North Florida commit) the 2015, 4A state runner-up looks to get back in contention in both the conference and state playoffs.

ASHBROOK

Head Coach: Richard Carsner (2nd year as Ashbrook basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 17-13

2015-16 Record: 17-13(9-5 in the Big South conference)

Returning Starters: Emmanuel Rhyne, Sr., G (5-11); Jaquailin Brown, Jr., F (6-0). Key Newcomers: JaQuese Hemphill, So., G (6-2); Tykel Roseboro, So., G (6-0); JaQuan Hemphill, So., G (5-11); Jakai Belton, Jr., G (5-10); Jacob Warnock, Jr., F (6-4).

Outlook: The Green Wave will rely on a talented backcourt in senior Emmanuel Rhyne, junior Jaqualin Brown and promising sophomore point guard, JaQuese Hemphill, to carry the load.

But they will need some younger players to step up if they are going to contend for the Big South conference title and be a player in the postseason (lost in third round last year).

BERRY

Head Coach: Maurice Jones (5th year as Berry Academy basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 78-35

2015-16 Record: 21-8 (10-4 in the SoMeck8 conference)

Returning Starters: None Key Newcomers: Webster Filmore, Jr., F (6-6, 180); Anjay Cortez, So., F/G (6-5, 160); Maurice Brown, Fr., G (6-0); Justin Graham, Sr., G (5-8).

Outlook: Coach Maurice Jones has led Berry to 61 wins in the last three years. But without any starters returning to the lineup, even a talented group of Cardinal freshmen and sophomores will have a tough time staying near the top of the SoMeck8 conference standings. Coach Jones has proven he can get the most out of his teams and win consistently. This year will be his biggest challenge to keep that tradition going strong.

BESSEMER CITY

Head Coach: Danny McDowell (7th year as Bessemer City basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 178-134

2015-16 Record: 16-10 (8-6 in the South Piedmont 1A conference (SPC 1A))

Returning Starters: Trel McLean, Sr., G/F (6-3, 165); Ja’hari Guthrie, Sr., G (6-3, 175); Malique Nelson, Sr., F (6-2, 200). Key Newcomers: Jay Salder, Jr., F (6-4, 180); Justice Davis, Fr., PG (5-9, 145).

Outlook: The Yellow Jackets look to stay in race in the SPC 1A, and have the firepower with senior guards Trel McLean (19 ppg) and Ja’hari Guthrie (14 ppg, 9 rpg) leading a team that looks to get back in the postseason. McLean gives them a rare offensive weapon that can keep them in games when he heats up -- as he poured in 45 points (including seven, three-pointers) against Cherryville last season – making them a dangerous matchup.

BUTLER

Head Coach: Myron Lowery (3rd year at Butler basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 321-288

2015-16 Record: 24-6 (11-1 to win the Southwestern 4A conference)

Returning Starters: Jah’Lil Carter, Sr., F (6-6, 210); Zane Rankin, Sr., G (6-3, 190); Gerrale Gates, Jr., F (6-6, 266); D.J. Little, Jr., G (6-2, 190).

Other Key Returnees: Tarique Stowe, Sr., PG (5-10); Omega Stitt, Sr., G (6-0, 155); Chase Morrisette-Barnett, Sr., G (6-2). Key Newcomers: Justin Rivera, Sr., G (6-3, 185) (New Jersey transfer)

Outlook: Butler is 47-10 in the last two years under Myron Lowery, including a trip to the 4A state quarterfinals last March. This year, with four starters back, led by seniors, Jah’Lil Carter and Zane Rankin and juniors, Gerrale Gates and D.J. Little, the Bulldogs will be the favorite to repeat as SW4A conference champions and also be a serious state (championship) contender. Their frenetic pace with eight to 10 players rotating in makes them a difficult matchup in any scenario.

CANNON SCHOOL

Head Coach: Che Roth (5th Year as Cannon School head coach)

Coaching Career Record: 66-53

2015-16 Record: 19-11 overall (5-5 in CISAA conference play)

Returning Starters: Jairus Hamilton, Jr., G/F (6-8, 220); Philip McKenzie, Sr., F (6-6, 200); Zion Hendrix, Jr., G (5-11, 150); Cory Deveaux, Sr., G (6-3, 200); Jaleel Usher, Sr., F (6-5, 175). Key Newcomers: Qon Murphy, Jr., G (6-6, 185); Tyler Alexander, Fr., F (6-7, 210); Percy Johnson, Sr., PG (5-4, 150).

Outlook: The Cougars are loaded with major, Division I recruits from all-state forward, Jairus Hamilton, to Philip McKenzie to Hough transfer, Qon Murphy to freshman, Tyler Alexander.

With all five starters back, Cannon School is serious contender to win both the CISAA conference and NCISAA 3A state championships.

CAROLINA INTERNATIONAL

Head Coach: Barry West (2nd year of Carolina International basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 185-119

2015-16 Record: 11-15 (Independent)

Returning Starters: Jakai Brewton, Jr., SG (6-1); Jaylen Brewton, Sr., PG (5-9); C.J. Awunti, Sr., G/F (5-11); Tavaris Featherston, So., F (5-9). Key Newcomers: Aaron Barker, Fr., SG (5-10).

Outlook: The Comets went a more than respectable 11-15 in their first year as a program. Now, Coach Barry West and company look to gain even more momentum as they move into conference play next year. Junior shooting guard, Jakai Brewton (20 ppg), looks to lead his team to a winning record and more.

CARMEL CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Byron Dinkins (1st year as Carmel Christian basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 23-8 (14-0 to win Southern Piedmont Athletic Association)

Returning Starters: Myles Pierre, So., SG (6-3); Zach Prevette, Sr., G (6-3).

Other Key Returnees: Greg McDonald, Jr., F (6-8); Jon Bryan, Sr., F (6-9); James Gruber, Sr., F (6-3). Key Newcomers: Shawn Morrison, Sr., G (5-9) (Grace Academy transfer); Donovan Gregory, So., G/F (6-5) (Northside Christian transfer); Marten Maide, So., G (6-3); Ford Cooper, Fr., G (6-3).

Outlook: Coach Byron Dinkins is used to winning, as he did at Northside Christian. Dinkins inherits a team with a lot of talent from major, Division I recruit, Myles Pierre (15 ppg) to explosive transfers in Shawn Morrison (Grace Academy) and Donovan Gregory (Northside Christian transfer). With elite guards and good size inside, the Cougars will have a great chance to repeat as SPAA champions and be a factor in the NCISAA 2A playoffs.

CENTRAL ACADEMY

Head Coach: David Daniels (2nd year as Central Academy basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 2-23 (0-10 in the Rocky River conference)

Returning Starters: Hezekiah House, Sr., G; Andrew Gentry, Sr., F. Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Cougars won only two games last season, dropping the last 13 games of the season. With only two starters returning climbing out of the bottom the Rocky River standings isn’t going to be easy, but Coach Daniels and company will look to do just that in year two of his tenure.

CENTRAL CABARRUS

Head Coach: Kenyan Weaks (4th year as Central Cabarrus basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 27-46

2015-16 Record: 10-17 (7-11 in the South Piedmont conference (SPC))

Returning Starters: Isaiah Salter, Sr., G (5-11, 160); Mike Hamilton, Sr., F (6-5, 165); Keani Mitchell, Jr., F (6-3, 175). Key Newcomers: Rechaun Bennett, Sr., F (6-6, 200); T’Darien Neal, Jr., F (6-5, 170); DeAngelo Patterson, Fr., G (6-2); Devontae Patterson, Fr., G/F (6-2).

Outlook: Central Cabarrus has the athleticism, depth and size to hang with the best in the SPC, but need a "go-to," player to emerge. The Vikings will look to seniors, guard Isaiah Salter (13 ppg) and forward, Mike Hamilton (7 ppg), to lead younger but talented team into the upper half of the SPC and playoff contention.

CHARLOTTE CATHOLIC

Head Coach: Mike King (9th year as Charlotte Catholic basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 133-82

2015-16 Record: 32-1 (13-1 to win SoMeck8 conference)

Returning Starters: Jimmy Abate, Sr., F (6-4, 205).

Other Key Returnees: Trey Kloiber, Sr., G (6-1, 170); Luke Harkins, Jr., G (5-11, 150); Matt Ciccone, Jr., F (6-6, 210). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The euphoria of Charlotte Catholic’s magical run to their first 4A state, basketball championship can still be felt within the Cougar basketball family. But with nine seniors graduated from that team and 6-foot-8 forward, B.J. Mack gone (Charlotte Christian transfer), the reality that this is a whole new team is setting in quickly. However, Coach Mike King says his team "will try to not lose a step," as he plans on going high-pressure with a rotation that goes eight to ten deep. Just how quickly Catholic can reload and how far that will take them is the question this team will have to answer.

CHARLOTTE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Shonn Brown (16th year as Charlotte Christian basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 349-149

2015-16 Record: 11-18 (3-8 in the CISAA conference)

Returning Starters: Rob Peterson, Sr., G/F (6-6, 190) Kayle Mason, Sr., F (6-4. 195); Terrelle Brown, Jr., G (6-1, 175); J.C. Tharrington, So., PG (6-0, 165); Seth Bennett, So., G (6-2, 175). Key Newcomers: B.J. Mack, So., F/C (6-8, 245); Blake Preston, FILL, F/C (6-9, 240); Garrett Shrader, So., G/F (6-5, 215); Efosa E-Udosomwan, So., G (6-2, 165).

Outlook: Charlotte Christian coach, Shonn Brown, says his Knights’ team expects to compete for a state championship every year. But Christian has struggled in recent years with three losing seasons in their last four campaigns. However, the Knights are loaded with talent this year with Division I targets, Rob Peterson (13 ppg, 8 rpg) and J.C. Tharrington (13 ppg, 5 apg) in the backcourt with 6-foot-8, Charlotte Catholic transfer, B.J. Mack (Va. Tech commit) now giving them a major force inside. That combination will allow Charlotte Christian to be a contender for both conference and state bragging rights once again.

CHARLOTTE COUNTRY DAY

Head Coach: Dwayne Cherry (7th year as Charlotte Country Day basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 69-98

2015-16 Record: 12-17 (4-6 in CISAA conference play).

Returning Starters: Triston Miller, So., F (6-6, 230); Rylan McLaurin, So., PG (5-8, 140).

Key Newcomers: DeAngelo Epps, So., G/F (6-5, 180): Tim Newman, Fr., G (5-9, 170).

Outlook: The Bucs have some promising young players, including sophomores, Triston Miller, Rylan McLaurin and DeAngelo Epps as well as freshman, Tim Newman. But this young team will be severely tested with three of the top teams in the state in their conference, including Cannon School, Charlotte Christian and Providence Day.

CHARLOTTE LATIN

Head Coach: Chris Berger (8th year as Charlotte Latin basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 116-71

2015-16 Record: 16-12 (6-4 in the CISAA conference).

Returning Starters: Bates Jones, Sr., F (6-8, 200); Jackson Farr, Sr., G (6-3, 175);

Other Key Returnees: John Beecy, So., G (6-1, 170); David Baynard, Sr., G (6-2, 195); Jack Felkner, Jr., F (6-4, 180). Key Newcomers: Bennett Smith, Fr., F (6-5, 180).

Outlook: Charlotte Latin coach, Chris Berger, has made a habit of getting the most of out of his teams’ talents and this season will need to do so again. The Hawks have some key pieces in 6-foot-8, all-conference forward, Bates Jones (19 ppg, 9 rpg/Davidson commit), shooter, Jackson Farr, senior point guard, David Baynard, but will have to battle in the unforgiving CISAA with likes of Providence Day, Cannon School and Charlotte Christian. However, Latin finished second in the league last year, then beat Cannon in the first round of the playoffs last year, before falling to Providence Day in the quarterfinals. Now, the Hawks look to prove they can make a similar run this season.

CHERRYVILLE

Head Coach: Scott Harrill (17th year as Cherryville basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 310-126

2015-16 Record: 10-16 (4-10 in the South Piedmont 1A conference (SPC 1A)

Returning Starters: Jaiden Hunt, Jr., G (6-2, 180); Landon Hudson, Sr., G (6-2, 180).

Other Key Returnees: Nathan Jeffers, So., C (6-4, 210); Matt Cain, So., F (6-2, 160); Nick Brown, Sr., G (6-1, 165); Trevor Harrill, Sr., G (5-10, 150). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Cherryville has been up and down the last two seasons, and was dealt a tough blow when starting center, Noah Hampton, died in a car accident this offseason. But Coach Scott Harrill says his team is rallying around the memory of Hampton, and expects a tight-knit group to be a factor in the SPC 1A race and into the postseason with the starting backcourt of Jaiden Hunt (10 ppg) and Landson Hudson, back to lead the way.

CHRIST THE KING

Head Coach: Stephen Clapp (1st year as Christ the King basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 17-15 (11-4 in the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA)).

Returning Starters: Brian Stanley, Sr., G (6-1); Scott Harvey, Jr., F (6-7). Key Newcomers: Kevin Butterfield, Jr., F (6-4); Matthew Stanley, Jr., G (5-11).

Outlook: The Crusaders have established themselves quickly in a tough SPAA, finishing third in the conference last season, collecting 17 wins. This year, Christ the King looks to be even better led by explosive, senior guard, Brian Stanley and junior forward, Scott Harvey.

CLOVER

Head Coach: Bailey Jackson (4th year as Clover basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 247-185

2015-16 Record: 13-11 (6-6 in Region III (4A))

Returning Starters: Quise Robbins, Sr., G (6-1, 175); Aaron Milner, Sr., F (6-5, 195); Andrew White, Jr., G (6-4, 185); Dre Starr, Sr., F (6-4, 180). Key Newcomers: Hezekiah Massey, So., G (6-0, 170).

Outlook: The Blue Eagles return four starters led by reigning, Region III (4A) player of the year, senior, Quise Robbins (23 ppg), and classmate, forward, Aaron Milner (11 ppg, 8 rpg), which should give them a change to contend for a region title (Region IV (5A) and be a tough team to face in the postseason.

COMENIUS

Head Coach: Greg Jones (1st year as Comenius basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 23-7 (8-1 in the Charlotte Metro Athletic Conference (CMAC)

Returning Starters: Kamil Chapman, Sr., PG (6-0, 190); Nilous Hodge, Jr., G (6-4, 170); Brandon Burford, Jr., G (6-0, 160); Chisolm Obidke, Sr., C (6-10, 215); Quincy Oglesby, Jr., SG (6-2, 165). Key Newcomers: Anthony Chaffey, Jr., SG (6-3, 180); Monte Horne, Jr., G (5-8, 140); Shawn Hodge, Fr., SG (6-2, 183); Chandler Speights, Fr., PG (6-0, 150); Benny Inentambor, Jr., SG (6-4, 180); Brandon Tillman, Jr., SG (5-11, 160).

Outlook: Comenius returns all five starters from a team that won 23 games, won the CMAC and played in the USA National Prep tournament. This season, the Knights look to be even better, led by senior point guard, Kamil Chapman (22.8 ppg) and junior wings, Nilous Hodge and Brandon Burford.

COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF DAVIDSON

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

Coaching Career Record: 37-42

2015-16 Record: 15-13 (10-4 in the South Piedmont 1A conference)

Returning Starters: Joey Knox, Sr., SG (6-5, 180); Will Mitchell, Sr., PF (6-5, 190); Ryan Gomilla, Sr., SF (6-2, 190); Brandon Ellington, So., SG (6-3, 175).

Other Key Returnees: Alex McMahon, Sr., PG (6-2, 175); Konrad Christian, Jr., F (6-9, 190); Sage Alexander, So., PG (5-9, 170). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Spartans have steadily improved each season, notching their first winning season in school history last year with 15 wins and a playoff victory. Now, Coach Jackie Drakeford and company are eager to take the next step and challenge defending league champion, Lincoln Charter for bragging rights. The Spartans have the experience and talent to make a run with four starters back, led by 6-foot-5, senior, all-conference, shooting guard, Joey Knox (14.3 ppg).

CONCORD

Head Coach: Jason Stowe (2nd Year as Concord basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 23-5 (16-2 in the South Piedmont conference (SPC))

Returning Starters: Hamsah Nasirildeen, Sr., F (6-5, 215). Key Newcomers: Andrew Metcalf, Sr., G (6-4, 215); Jackson Threadgill, Fr., G (6-4, 160); Jalen O’Neal, So., G (6-4, 175); Jacob Irby, Sr., F (6-5, 215).

Outlook: The Spiders have been one of the most consistent teams in the state, winning 23 or more games in nine of the last 10 seasons. But with point guard Rechon Black (North Carolina commit, Montverde Academy transfer) gone along with four starters from a year ago, it won’t best easy to replicate their success in the brutal SPC. But, Coach Jason Stowe, senior forward, Hamsah Nasirildeen (15 ppg, South Carolina football commit) and company are eager to prove themselves again, especially after a shocking, 68-67, first round, home playoff loss to North Forsyth ended last season.

CONCORD FIRST ASSEMBLY

Head Coach: Frank Cantadore (5th year as Concord First Assembly basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 115-36

2015-16 Record: 23-6 (8-4 in the Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC)).

Returning Starters: Julius Felder, Sr., PG (5-10); Weston Edwards, Sr., SG (5-11). Key Newcomers: Stephen Edoka, Jr., SG (6-5); Lazar Popovic, Sr., C (6-8); Amiri Wadell, Sr., PF (6-6); Strah Rajic, Jr., PG (6-4).

Outlook: The Eagles have consistent winners, with 99 victories in the last four years. This season, they look to continue that trend, which will begins with their two returning starters guards, Julius Felder and Weston Edwards. Add in a promising group up front with a lot size, and Coach Frank Cantadore and company look to contend for a MAC title and go even deeper than their NCISAA 2A quarterfinal run a year ago.

COVENANT CLASSICAL

Head Coach: Dale Similton (1st year as Covenant Classical basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 126-38

2015-16 Record: 12-6/Independent

Returning Starters: Will Blakey, Sr., G (5-9, 155); Evan Prince, Sr., F (5-11). Key Newcomers: Josiah Dow, 8th grade, G (6-6, 180); Jalen Jackson, So., G (5-11, 175); Christopher Bacon, So., F (6-2).

Outlook: Coach Dale SimSilton has made a reputation on building basketball programs and will look to do so again at Covenant Classical, where he takes over for Scott Brewer. Similton will look to seniors, Will Blakey and Evan Prince for leadership, but is also excited about promising sophomores, Christopher Bacon, Jalen Jackson and 8th-grader, Josiah Dow, on a team work to better than 12-6 mark from a year ago.

COVENANT DAY

Head Coach: Kameron Law (2nd year as Covenant Day basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 12-11

2015-16 Record: 12-11 (3-7 in the CISAA conference).

Returning Starters: Chase Dixon, Sr., C/F (6-3, 210); Christian Vandevelde, Sr., SG (5-8, 165); Jake Glass, Sr., SF (6-3, 175). Key Newcomers: Josh Price, Jr., PG (6-2) (Charlotte Christian transfer); Malik Beatty, Jr., SF (6-4); J.P. Corser, Sr., PF (6-6).

Outlook: Covenant Day is the unenviable position of being in one of the toughest conferences in the state with defending NCISAA 3A state champion, Providence Day and traditional power, Charlotte Christian and Cannon School all potential top 10 teams in the state. But the Lions have a nice blend of experience in all-CISAA forward, Chase Dixon (13 ppg), seniors, Christian Vandevelde (11 ppg), Jake Glass and J.P. Corser, and transfers, Josh Price (Charlotte Christian), Malik Beatty (Independence transfer) to be competitive in a brutal league.

COX MILL

Head Coach: Jody Barbee (4th year as Cox Mill head coach)

Coaching Career Record: 64-21

2015-16 Record: 22-8 (13-5 in the South Piedmont conference (SPC))

Returning Starters: Wendell Moore, So., G (6-5, 185)

Other Key Returnees: Caleb Stone-Carrawell, So., F (6-5). Key Newcomers: Tyzhaun Claude, Jr., F (6-7, 195)

Outlook: The Chargers had their best season in school history last year, advancing to the 3A state quarterfinals, before falling to eventual state champion, Jay M. Robinson. While they lost four starters from that team, their best player, major Division I recruit, Wendell Moore (17 ppg, 10 rpg, 8 apg), is back to lead the way. Add in talented young players like Caleb Stone-Carrawell and Tyzhaun Claude and Cox Mill should contend in SPC conference and be a major player deep into the 3A playoffs.

CUTHBERTSON

Head Coach: Michael Helms (8th year as Cuthbertson basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 345-217

2015-16 Record: 17-8 (6-4 in the Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC))

Returning Starters: Chris Grovanz, Sr., F (6-5); Myles Brown, Jr., G (6-1). Key Newcomers: Blake Hesse, So., F (6-5).

Outlook: Coach Mike Helms and his Cavalier teams’ have developed a strong, basketball tradition in the short history of the school’s existence (opened in 2009). But with only two starters back, it won’t be easy for Cuthbertson to stay near the top of the SCC.

DAVIDSON DAY

Head Coach: Jeff Coble (3rd year as Davidson Day basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 4-24 (0-8 in the PACIS conference).

Returning Starters: Gavin Rickard, Jr., G/F (6-1); Alex Sabates, Sr., F (6-4); Garvin Stewart, Sr., F (6-3). Key Newcomers: Cyncier Harrison, 8th grade, PG (5-9); Will Coble, Fr., G (5-10); Mark Breunig, Fr., F (6-5); C.J. Huntley, Fr., F (6-5); Matt McMahan, Jr., G (6-2).

Outlook: The Patriots suffered through a four-win season last year. But with three starters back and strong crop of incoming freshman ready to make an impact, Davidson Day is shooting to get back in the postseason as an independent (not in a conference).

EAST GASTON

Head Coach: Eugene Farrar (5th year as East Gaston basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 43-57

2015-16 Record: 11-14 (7-7 in the Big South conference)

Returning Starters: Sam Brown, Sr., C (6-5, 185); Tyrone Brown, Sr., SG (6-2, 150); Zach Hager, Sr., SF (6-2, 200); Justin Gomez, Sr., F (6-2); Caleb Bridgewater, Jr., PG (6-3).

Key Returnees: Ryan Grice, Jr., SG (6-0, 180). Key Newcomers: Jason Ritch, SG (6-1, 155); D.J. Hall, PG (5-8, 160).

Outlook: The Warriors have the experience with all five starters back to make a move in the ultra-competitive, Big South conference. Seniors, Sam and Tyrone Brown, Zach Hage and Justin Gomez look to lead an experienced team back to the playoffs.

EAST LINCOLN

Head Coach: Neil Hodges (17th year as East Lincoln basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 283-129

2015-16 Record: 28-1 (14-0 to Southern District 7 conference (SD7))

Returning Starters: Cameron Dollar, Sr., G (6-3, 195); Coleson Leach, Jr., G (6-0, 165); John Bean, So., F (6-1, 170)

Other Key Returnees: Christian Parks, Jr., F (6-3, 190); Ben Zirkle, So., G (6-0, 170); Nate Cureton, Sr., G (6-0, 175). Key Newcomers: Sidney Dollar, So., G (6-2, 165); Allden Horne, So., G (6-0, 155).

Outlook: East Lincoln is 52-2 in the last two years with their only losses coming in the 2A state championship game. But gone are both Surratt brothers as Chazz (University of North Carolina) and Sage (Lincolnton transfer), who were two of the best players in the state. Now, the challenge for Coach Neil Hodges and company is try to stay on top of the SD7 conference with senior, Cameron Dollar (13 ppg) leading a young team that is eager to prove they can keep the winning tradition going strong.

EAST MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: Vince Moore (3rd year as East Mecklenburg coach)

2015-16 Record: 9-15 (4-8 in the Southwestern 4A conference)

Returning Starters: Charvis Jones, Jr., G (6-5, 215); TiReq Morrow, So., G (5-9, 140); Jordan Richard, Sr., G (5-10, 140); Seth Bradbury, Sr., F (6-3, 185). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Coach Vince Moore believes the Eagles are ready to contend for a SW4A conference title with four starters back that will look to play at an a high-pressure offensive/defensive pace that makes most opponents uncomfortable. Senior forward, Seth Bradbury (12 ppg, 6 rpg) and junior guard, Charvis Jones (15 ppg, 4 rpg) will be expected to lead the way for a team on the rise, that is looking to make a splash in postseason play.

FOREST HILLS

Head Coach: Matt Sides (5th year as Forest Hills’ basketball coach; 9th overall)

Coaching Career Record: 134-84

2015-16 Record: 28-3 (10-0 to win the Rocky River conference)

Returning Starters: Tyrese Barbour, Sr., PG (5-9); Shamon Ratliff, Jr., G (6-0); Nas Tyson, So. G (6-1).

Other Key Returnees: Jai Rorie, Sr., PG (5-8); Jaleel McLaughlin, Sr., G (5-9). Key Newcomers: Trey Brelin, So., F (6-2); Cam Richardson, So, G (5-8); Josh Owens, Fr., F (6-2).

Outlook: The Yellow Jackets won 28 games last year, advancing to the 2A West Regional finals (state semifinals), before falling to East Lincoln. But with three starters back from that team, led by all-conference guard, Nas Tyson (12 ppg, 7 rpg) and Tyrese Barbour (three-year starter), Forest Hills’ goal will be to repeat as Rocky River conference champions and put themselves in position to contend for a 2A state title.

FORESTVIEW

Head Coach: Chris Rayfield (2nd year as Forestview basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 6-18 (5-9 in the Big South conference).

Returning Starters: Malik Hatten, Sr. G (6-0, 145); Logan Stone, Sr., G (6-4, 195); Tremayne Booker, Sr., PF (6-4, 215). Key Newcomers: Darion Anderson, So., G (6-1, 155).

Outlook: The Jaguars won only six games last, and will lean on the senior trio of Tremayne Booker, Malik Hatten and Logan Stone, to try and move back up the Big South conference ladder. Second-year head coach, Chris Rayfield says his team will rely on its intensity and shooting to overcome a lack of overall size as they try to get back in the upper half of the league standings and into the playoff picture.

FORT MILL

Head Coach: Dwayne Hartsoe (6th year as Fort Mill basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 22-4 (11-1 to win Region III (4A))

Returning Starters: None.

Other Key Returnees: Austin Granger, Sr. G/F (6-3); Keaton Griffin, Sr., F (6-2); Jamal White, Sr., G (6-1). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Life in the new Region IV (5A) won’t start out easy as the Yellow Jackets don’t return any starters from last year’s 22-win, Region III (4A) champions. But, Coach Dwayne Hartsoe has proven his teams are consistent winners and no one would be surprised if Fort Mill put themselves in the thick of the region race and back in playoff contention with seniors, Austin Granger, Keaton Griffin and Jamal White, now leading the charge.

GARINGER

Head Coach: Jordan Yawn (1st year as Garinger basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 28-13

2015-16 Record: 9-13 (4-8 in the Southwestern 4A conference (SW4A)).

Returning Starters: Kaleb McReed, So., SG (5-10, 160); Jayden Gamble, So., SF (6-0, 190). Key Newcomers: Demetrius Martin, So., PG/SG (5-11, 150).

Outlook: First-year coach, Jordan Yawn, enters a tough situation without much experience or size going into the season. The Wildcats will look to their backcourt, where sophomores, Kaleb McReed, Jayden Gamble and Demetrius Martin, will have to grow up quickly if Garinger is going to compete in an unforgiving, SW4A conference.

GASTON DAY

Head Coach: Trent McCallister (2nd year as Gaston Day basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 14-11, (6-4 in the Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC))

Returning Starters: Brandon Reeves, Sr., G (6-5, 185); Quan McCluney, Jr., G (6-6, 180); M.J. Armstrong, Jr. (6-3, 185); John Crump, So., G (6-2, 170). Key Newcomers: Nate Hinton, Jr., PG (6-6, 195) (Northside Christian transfer); Demilade AdeleKun, So., F (6-7, 210).

Outlook: The Spartans are loaded with three all-MAC performers back, including Brandon Reeves (15 ppg), Quan McCluney (18 ppg, 10 rpg) and M.J. Armstrong (12 ppg). Add all-state point guard, Northside Christian transfer, Nate Hinton (18 ppg, 6 rpg, 4 spg) and Gaston Day believes it can contend for both a MAC and NCISAA 2A state title. A heartbreaking two-point loss to Northside Chrsitian in the quarterfinals gives them a little extra motivation.

GRACE ACADEMY

Head Coach: Jernel Sanders (3rd year as Grace Academy basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 31-18

2015-16 Record: 17-9 (2-5 in the Charlotte Metro Athletic conference (CMAC))

Returning Starters: Jaylen Thompson, Jr., F (6-3); Eric Evans, Sr., G (6-2). Key Newcomers: Mark James Lawson.

Outlook: Grace Academy has proven to be consistent winner under Coach Jernel Sanders, with 17 wins and third-place finish at the NACA tournament last season. With team MVP, Jaylen Thompson (12 ppg, 10 rpg, 5 apg) and senior guard, Eric Evans (15 ppg, 5 rpg) back, the Lions should have a chance to be just as good or better this season.

HARDING

Head Coach: Walt Aikens (13th year as Harding basketball coach).

2015-16 Record: 11-15 (8-6 in the SoMeck8 conference).

Returning Starters: Prince Ngwenah, Sr., C (6-5, 215); Jaquan Rankins, Sr., G (5-9, 160). Key Newcomers: Arvydas Jones, Jr., PG (5-10, 165); Brian Ross, Jr., G (6-1, 165); Decedrick Campbell, Jr., SF (6-4, 200).

Outlook: Coach Walt Aikens has a reputation of getting the most out of his teams, and will look to pull off a similar feat this year on team with only two starters back. The Rams will lean on their trademark, ball-pressure defense with seniors, Prince Ngewenah, Jaquan Rankins, and junior, Brian Ross, leading a team trying to stay in playoff position in the middle of the always brutal, SoMeck8 conference.

HICKORY GROVE

Head Coach: Jim Rhodes (1st year as Hickory Grove basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 4-18 (3-8 Metrolina Athletic Conference (MAC))

Returning Starters: Cartier Jernigan, So., G (6-1); Jaylyn Hargett, Jr., G (6-0); Lucas Larson, Sr., F (6-4).

Other Key Returnees: K.J. Freeman, Jr., G (6-1); Austin Haddeen, Jr., G/F (6-2). Key Newcomers: N/A

Outlook: The Lions have had three straight losing seasons, with only seven wins combined in the last two years. Coach Jim Rhodes looks to change that, and has nice mix of experience back led by all-conference, sophomore guard, Cartier Jernigan, as they try to make the difficult climb back up the MAC ladder.

HICKORY RIDGE

Head Coach: Robert Machado (10th year as Hickory Ridge basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 114-116

2015-16 Record: 19-8 (13-5 in the South Piedmont conference (SPC))

Returning Starters: Jarren Cottingham, Sr., PG (6-0). Key Newcomers: Jarrett Garner, Jr., G (6-3, 165); Eli Cupples, Jr., G (6-0, 150); Darian Bell, Jr., PG (5-11, 165).

Outlook: The Ragin’ Bulls are 39-13 in the past two seasons, but return only starter this year in senior point guard, Jarren Cottingham (9 ppg), which won’t make life in the SPC easy. But, Coach Robert Machado will look to a talented backcourt, with Cottingham and promising juniors, Eli Cupples, Jarrett Garner and Darian Bell, to keep them in the upper echelon of the league and in position to be a factor in postseason play.

HIGHLAND TECH

Head Coach: Forshee Blair (1st year as Highland Tech head basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 2-23 (1-13 in the South Piedmont 1A conference (SPC 1A))

Returning Starters: Jason Osemeka, Jr., F (6-2, 165); Landon Burr, Jr. F, (6-2, 160). Key Newcomers: Nathaniel Little, Sr., PG (6-1, 155).

Outlook: The Rams struggled mightily last season winning just two games, dropping the last 11 straight. But now, longtime assistant, Forshee Blair, looks to jumpstart a younger overall team with just two starters back. Life won’t get any easier in the SPC 1A conference, but Highland Tech will look get things going in the right direction.

HOPEWELL

Head Coach: Michael McNeil (1st year as Hopewell basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 9-15 (3-9 in the MECKA 4A conference)

Returning Starters: Mark Sherrill, Sr., PG (5-6, 150). Key Newcomers: Micale Harris, Jr., F (6-7, 170); Alvin Cannady, So., F (6-5, 180); Brice Williams, So., G/F (6-4, 185).

Outlook: The once powerful, Titans have struggled in recent years as they haven’t notched a double-figure win season since the 2010-11 campaign. With only one player with varsity experience back, in senior, starting point guard, Mark Sherrill, first-year coach, Michael McNeil and company face an uphill battle in climbing out of the bottom of the MECKA 4A standings.

HOUGH

Head Coach: Jason Grube (3rd year as Hough basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 255-195

2015-16 Record: 19-8 (9-3 in the MECKA 4A conference)

Returning Starters: Ben Topp, Sr., F (6-7); Cooper Crawford, Jr., PG (6-0); Damon Early, Jr., F (6-3).

Other Key Returnees: Chase Praeger, Jr., PG (5-8); Jackson Rhodes, Sr., G (5-9); Justice Rushing, Sr., G (5-10); Blake Bailey, Sr., Wing (6-2); Paxton Sutton, Sr., F (6-5); Donovan Barnes, Sr., G (5-11). Key Newcomers: Myles Washington, Jr., F (6-6) (Berry transfer); Will Taylor, So., F (6-1); Gemeni Kerns, So., G (6-0).

Outlook: The Huskies surprised some people when they finished second-place in the MECKA 4A conference. But Coach Jason Grube relishes the underdog role and will convince his team they have something to prove again this season. 6-foot-7 senior forward, Ben Topp and juniors, Cooper Crawford and Damon Early must play big roles if this team is going to be league contender and a factor in the 4A playoffs.

HUNTER HUSS

Head Coach: Walter Wallace (6th year as Hunter Huss basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 14-13 (10-4 in the Big South conference)

Returning Starters: Cress Worthy, Sr., G (6-1, 170); Antwanez Barnett, Sr., F (6-2, 200); Blake Wilson, Jr., F (6-5, 210).

Other Key Returnees: Marcus Mauney, So, F/C (6-4, 220); Tony Davis, FILL, F (6-3, 185); Key Newcomers: Kamarie Booker, Jr., G (5-10); Suany Jimenez, Jr., F (6-3); Saveon Falls, Jr., F (6-5, 175); Chase Nixon, Jr., G (6-2, 170).

Outlook: The Huskies have averaged 19 wins in five years with Coach Walter Wallace at the helm. With a deep and experienced team that has a lot of interchangeable parts like two-time, all Big South conference seniors, Cress Worthy (13 ppg) and Antwanez Barnett (9 ppg, 9 rpg), Hunter Huss should be a Big South contender and a dangerous matchup in the playoffs.

INDEPENDENCE

Head Coach: Preston Davis (8th year as Independence basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 84-100

2015-16 Record: 21-8 (10-2 in Southwestern 4A conference)

Returning Starters: Justyn Hamilton, Sr., F/C (6-10); Matthew Statile, Sr., SG (6-3); Chea Johnson, Sr., PG (6-0); Victor Tshiona, Sr., F (6-5). Key Newcomers: Andra McKee, So., G (6-3); Raja Milton, So., G (6-0).

Outlook: The Patriots are loaded with experience and talent as four starters are back led by 6-foot-10 center, Justyn Hamilton (10 ppg, 8 rpg, 5 bpg/Temple commit) on a team that can challenge for a SW4A title and make a deep playoff run. Losing Berry transfer, 6-foot-5, Jamarius Burton (ACL), was a tough loss before the season even started.

INDIAN LAND

Head Coach: Nate Smith (14 years as head coach)

Coaching Career Record: 174-30

2015-16 Record: 14-11 (10-2 in the region play)

Returning Starters: Shamon Austin, So., PG (6-5). Key Newcomers: Dustin Clark, PG (6-1); Terrick Sistare, PG (5-7).

Outlook: The Warriors have the depth and quickness to contend for their fourth region title (in new Region IV (3A)) in the last five years with 6-foot-5 sophomore point guard, Shamon Austin (12 ppg) leading the way. But Coach Nate Smith and company will need some newcomers to step forward if Indian Land is going to be a factor into the postseason.

JAY M. ROBINSON

Head Coach: Lavar Batts, Sr. (3rd year as Jay M. Robinson basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 48-10

2015-16 Record: 29-3 (17-1 to win South Piedmont conference title/also 3A state champions)

Returning Starters: Lavar Batts (Jr.), Sr., PG (6-3, 170); Javonte Misenheimer, Sr., PF (6-4, 195). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Defending their 3A state championship with only two starters returning won’t be an easy task for the Bulldogs. But Jay M. Robinson returns one of the state’s most dynamic guards in senior Lavar Batts, Jr. (20 ppg, VCU commit), who loves the biggest games (3A state championship MVP). The Bulldogs now look to defend both their SPC and state titles, but will need some young players to step forward to do so.

LAKE NORMAN

Head Coach: Jeff Levan (1st year as Lake Norman basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 243-70-2

2015-16 Record: 13-13 (10-4 in the North Piedmont conference (NPC))

Returning Starters: Ryan Spence, Sr., PF (6-3, 195); Brian Dow, Sr., SG (6-2, 175); Jack Smith, Jr., PG (5-10). Key Newcomers: Demarcus Johnson, So., F (6-4, 170); Luke Robinson, F (6-2, 150).

Outlook: A new era of Lake Norman basketball begins as longtime Wildcats’ J.V. coach/assistant, Jeff Levan, takes over for longtime coach, Brandon Jolly. Levan has a team that should contend in the NPC with seniors shooters, Brian Dow and Ryan Spence (11.5 ppg) leading the way.

LAKE NORMAN CHARTER

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

Coaching Career Record: 91-46

2015-16 Record: 22-8 (13-1 to win the Big South conference)

Returning Starters: Grayson Hickert, Sr., F (6-7, 220); Troy Cracknell, Sr., G (6-5, 220); Connor Reed, Jr., G (6-1, 175). Key Newcomers: Noah Allen, So., G; Will Watts, So, G.

Outlook: Lake Norman Charter had a season to remember a year ago, winning 22 games, including a Big South conference title and a trip to the 2A state quarterfinals (Elite 8). This year, with their top two players back in seniors, all-conference standouts, 6-foot-7, Grayson Hickert (15 ppg, 8 rpg) and 6-foot-5, Troy Cracknell (14 ppg, 6 rpg), the Knights are poised to repeat as conference champions and make another deep postseason run.

LINCOLN CHARTER

Head Coach: Bradley Gabriel (5th year as Lincoln Charter basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 29-3 (13-1 in the South Piedmont 1A conference (SPC 1A)).

Returning Starters: Kody Shubert, Jr., PG (6-0); Jackson Gabriel, So., SG (6-2); Levontae Knox, So., SF (6-2); Jehlon Johnson, Jr., F (6-8).

Other Key Returnees: Zeke Mayfield, Jr., SG (6-0); Josh Haudek, Jr., F (6-4); Bryce Wilson, Sr., G (6-0); Kammien Mitchell, Sr., PG (5-11). Key Newcomers: Kendrick Davis, Jr., G (6-0); London England, Jr., SF (6-3); Axel Holm, Fr., PG (6-0); Dimitri McCall, Fr., F (6-4).

Outlook: Lincoln Charter was within a Winston-Salem Prep buzzer-beater of going to the 1A state championship game. Now, the Eagles’ main goal will be to take the next step and get to the state game this year. Junior point guard, Kody Shubert (20.7 ppg, multiple D-I offers), and sophomore wings, Jackson Gabriel (13.7 ppg) and Levontae Knox (10.1 ppg) lead an experienced and talented team that has great expectations and expects to play for championships (SPC 1A/state). Now, they have to prove they are up to the task, again this season.

MALLARD CREEK

Head Coach: Jonathan Hancock (3rd year as Mallard Creek basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 7-17 (3-9 in the MECKA 4A conference)

Returning Starters: Eric Reed, Sr., G (5-10); Jordan Campbell, Jr., G (5-10, 150); Larry Matkins, Sr., F (6-1, 225). Key Newcomers: Kyle Austin, Jr., G (5-11, 150); Brian Hamrick, F (6-0, 180).

Outlook: The Mavericks won only seven games last year, including three in MECKA 4A conference play. This year, Mallard Creek will benefit from the return of their starting backcourt in Eric Reed (12 ppg) and Jordan Campbell (10 ppg), but their lack of size upfront won’t make a climb up the league standings an easy task.

MARVIN RIDGE

Head Coach: Adam Haines (3rd year as Marvin Ridge basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 16-11 (6-4 in the Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC))

Returning Starters: Cam Jones, Sr., F (6-3, 180).

Key Returnees: Josh Cardwell, Sr., F (6-3); Riley Berrey, Jr., F; Bryce Carnohan, Jr., G: David Vogt, Jr., G (5-11, 170). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Mavericks have a good mix of experience and youth led by seniors, Cam Jones (14 ppg) and Josh Cardwell (7 ppg, 6th-man last year) leading the charge. But, the backcourt must step up quickly if the Mavericks are going to contend for league bragging rights and into the 3A state playoffs.

METROLINA CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Michael Wilson (7th year as Metrolina Christian basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 75-97

2015-16 Record: 8-20 (5-5 in the Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC))

Returning Starters: Malcolm Wade, Jr., PG (6-1, 165); Tate Johnson, So., PG (5-10, 150); Tyler Nelson, Jr., F (6-4. 175). Key Newcomers: Harris Helms, Sr., F (6-2, 175); Larry Barnes, Jr., G (6-0, 160); Nick Dietrich, Sr., G/F (6-4, 180).

Outlook: The Warriors believe they can climb back up the MAC standings, led by the backcourt of Malcolm Wade (15 ppg) and Tate Johnson (9 ppg). But getting back into postseason contention won’t be easy in a league loaded with talent at the top, with teams like Gaston Day, Concord First Assembly and more.

MONROE

Head Coach: Johnny Sowell (22nd year as Monroe basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 431-188

2015-16 Record: 16-10 (7-3 in the Rocky River conference)

Returning Starters: Paul Rushing, Sr., G (5-9, 160); Noah Marsh, Sr., F (6-1, 185); Trey Shepherd, So., G (6-2, 180). Key Newcomers: Tyron Houston, Jr., G (5-10).

Outlook: Coach Johnny Sowell has consistently found ways to get the most out of his teams at Monroe for more than decades now. While the Redhawks don’t return a lot experience or size -- with senior guards, Paul Rushing (7 ppg) and Noah Marsh (4 ppg) back to lead the team -- no one will be surprised if Monroe is right in the thick the Rocky River conference race and a dangerous team in the 3A playoffs come February.

MOORESVILLE

Head Coach: Michael Micklow (12th year as Mooresville basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 18-10 (10-5 in the North Piedmont conference (NPC))

Returning Starters: Noah Allen, Sr., G (6-0); Tay Davis, Sr., F (6-3); Demarcus Mills, So., F (6-6).

Other Key Returnees: Trey Gunnings, Jr., G (5-11). Key Newcomers: Seth Welch, Jr., G (5-11); Logan Elliott, G/F (6-1).

Outlook: Coach Michael Micklow believes his team can compete for a NPC championship if his younger players can fill their new roles. Mooresville will lean on seniors, Noah Allen (12 ppg) and Tay Davis (11 ppg) to lead a team that looks to improve on its 18-win season last year.

MOUNTAIN ISLAND CHARTER

Head Coach: William Dunn (1st year as Mountain Island Charter basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 12-13 (6-8 in the South Piedmont 1A conference (SPC 1A))

Returning Starters: Shaddai Boots, Sr., PG (5-10); Jarrett Avinger, Sr., G/F (6-4, 200); Javeon Dunn, Jr., PG (5-7, 155). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Raptors won 12 games last year, more than doubling their win total from year one as a varsity program, winning their first playoff game (beating Uwharrie Charter). Now, first-year coach, William Dunn, looks to help his team take the next step and the pieces to make a move with senior, point guard, Shaddai Boots (15 ppg) leading the way. Moving up the SPC 1A ladder won’t be easy in the ultra-competitive league.

MOUNT PLEASANT

Head Coach: George Walker (2nd year as Mount Pleasant basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 9-17 (3-7 in the Rocky River Conference)

Returning Starters: Jacob Lee, Sr., G (5-10); Jacorey Alston, Sr., F (6-3); Trey Barnhardt, Jr., G/F (6-4); Brandon Smith, So., F (6-3). Key Newcomers: Jordan Meadows, Jr., G (6-1); Ryan Bonnett, So., F (6-8); Chance DaQuita, So., F (6-1).

Outlook: Mount Pleasant’s nine win season was the most in more than a decade under first-year coach, George Walker. With four starters back, led by all-conference performers, Trey Barnhardt and Jacob Lee, the Tigers have a chance to make a move in the SPC and challenge for a playoff berth.

MYERS PARK

Head Coach: Scott Taylor (1st year as Myers Park head coach)

Coaching Career Record: 16-54

2015-16 Record: 15-12 (7-5 in the Southwestern 4A conference)

Returning Starters: Kevin Alford, Sr., PG (5-8); Zailan Peeler, Sr., SG (6-2).

Other Key Returnees: Nathan Springs, Jr., C (6-9). Key Newcomers: Duwe Ferris, So., F (6-5); Elijah Bowick, So., F (6-1).

Outlook: Coach Scott Taylor (from Providence) takes over a team with an experienced and talented backcourt led by Kevin Alford and Zailan Peeler (11 ppg). The Mustangs also have a promising young frontcourt, and if they emerge, should give Myers Park a chance to contend for a SW4A conference title and be a factor into the postseason.

NATION FORD

Head Coach: Jared Adamson (1st year as Nation Ford basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 12-13 (9-3 in Region III, 4A)

Returning Starters: Ben Tiupulotu, Jr., F (6-3, 190)

Other Key Returnee: Zeb Graham, So., PG (6-0, 150).

Outlook: First-year coach, Jared Adamson, believes he has the size and speed to compete for a Region IV (5A) title with all-region wing, Ben Tiupulotu (11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and sophomore point guard, Zeb Graham, leading the charge. But Nation Ford will have need to improve defensively and have some of their young players step in quickly if they want to battle the likes of Fort Mill, Clover and return to the playoffs.

NORTH GASTON

Head Coach: Wes Hepler (1st year as North Gaston basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 124-91

2015-16 Record: 9-13 (6-8 in the Big South conference)

Returning Starters: Cam Adams, Sr., G (6-2); Tommy McNeal, Sr., G (5-11); Austin Primm, Jr., F (6-4)

Other Key Returnee: Chad Tate, Sr., G (5-10). Key Newcomers: Tyrese McNeal, Fr., G (5-11).

Outlook: Longtime, Myers Park coach, Wes Hepler, takes over a North Gaston team that has some talent to build around in all-Big South conference guards, Cam Adams and Tommy McNeal. Hepler has proven he can help his teams overachieve, and will have to pull off a similar feat for the Wildcats to have a chance at returning to the playoffs.

NORTH IREDELL

Head Coach: Brian Cantrell (6th year as North Iredell basketball coach; 24th year overall).

2015-16 Record: 16-10 (10-5 in the North Piedmont conference (NPC)).

Returning Starters: Seth Wooten, Sr., G (6-0). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: North Iredell has almost a completely new team as 16 seniors have graduated over the past two years, and only one starter returns from a Raiders squad that won the NPC tournament last year. Coach Brian Cantrell says his team has a lot of work to do if they are going to remain in the upper echelon of the NPC and compete for a playoff berth.

NORTH LINCOLN

Head Coach: Tremayne Booker (3rd year as North Lincoln basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 6-19 (2-12 in the North Piedmont conference (NPC))

Returning Starters: Luke Johnson, Jr., SG (6-3, 200).

Other Key Returnees: Austin Devine, Sr., G (6-2, 210).

Outlook: The Knights have struggled in recent years winning just 17 games combined in the last three years. With only one starter in Luke Johnson back on a team without much size it’s not going to get any easier to climb out of the NPC cellar this season.

NORTH MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: Duane Lewis (18th year as North Mecklenburg basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 27-3 (12-0 to win the MECKA 4A conference)

Returning Starters: Vaud Worthy, Jr., PG (6-2). Key Newcomers: Terrell Sherman, Sr., C (6-7, 275); Jaylen Lowery, Sr., G (6-1, 175); Yancey Hairston, Jr., F (6-5, 185); Tristan Maxwell, Fr., G (6-2, 170); Tyren Clark, Jr., G/F (6-4, 200); Jae’lyn Withers, So., F (6-8, 185).

Outlook: North Mecklenburg ended last season with a heart-breaking loss to Charlotte Catholic in the 4A West Regional finals. Now, Coach Duane Lewis and company look to reload quickly with junior point guard, Vaud Worthy (James Worthy’s nephew), leading the way. Add in 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, Jae’lyn Withers and a talented group of newcomers and the Vikings will be looking to repeat at MECKA 4A champions, and also be a 4A state contender, again.

NORTHSIDE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Erasto Hatchett (1st year as Northside Christian basketball coach).

2015-16 Record: 21-7 (10-1 to win Metrolina Athletic Conference title).

Returning Starters: None. Key Newcomers: Jason Tate, Sr., G/F (6-5); Jonathan Hicklin, Jr., G (6-4); Jaden Seymour, Fr., G/F (6-5); Addison Lawrence, Fr., PG (5-8); Silas Wertz, Jr., PG/SG (5-10).

Outlook: A new era of Northside Christian basketball begins as Coach Erasto Hatchett replaces Byron Dinkins, whose team was NCISAA 2A state runner-up last season, winning 21 games. But the Knights will look to reload quickly will players like Jason Tate and Jonathan Hicklin hoping to keep a younger team near the top of the MAC standings and in position for a postseason run.

NORTHWESTERN

Head Coach: John Bramlett (2nd year as Northwestern basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 146-72

2015-16 Record: 10-11 (6-6 in Region III (4A)).

Returning Starters: Myliek Durham, Sr., PG/SG (6-2); Xavier Martin, So., F (6-3); Hamary Traore, Sr., F (6-4). Key Newcomers: Jaywen Westbrook, Jr., F (6-2); Chris Leach, Jr., G (6-2).

Outlook: Northwestern coach, John Bramlett, believes his team can contend in the new, Region IV (5A) led by senior, all-region, point guard, Myliek Durham (15 ppg, 5 rpg) and sophomore forward, Xavier Martin, who are both Division I recruits. The Trojans will look to play at a frenetic, full-court pace that makes them a difficult matchup, especially in a one-and-done playoff scenario.

NORTHWEST CABARRUS

Head Coach: Eric Jackson (4th Year as Northwest Cabarrus basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 26-44

2015-16 Record: 11-15 (6-12 in the South Piedmont conference)

Returning Starters: None Key Newcomers: Elijah Isom, So, F (6-3, 185); Chalen Stafford-Gill, So., C (6-6, 215).

Outlook: The Trojans lost all five starters to college basketball, but Coach Eric Jackson is confident his team can reload quickly and still stay in the upper echelon of the SPC and in playoff contention with sophomores like Elijah Isom and Chalen Stafford-Gill emerging.

OLYMPIC

Head Coach: Baronton Terry (1st year as Olympic basketball coach).

2015-16 Record: 9-17 (4-10 in SoMeck8 conference)

Returning Starters: Jordan Chambers, Sr., G (6-2); Aaron Barker, So., F (6-4). Key Newcomers: Jalan McGill.

Outlook: Former West Charlotte coach, Baronton Terry, won a lot of big games with the Lions. Now, he looks to bring his winning tradition to Olympic, who had their first losing campaign (9-17) in more than a decade last year. With senior guard, Jordan Chambers (11 ppg) and sophomore forward, Aaron Barker (9 ppg, 5 rpg) back in the lineup, the Trojans have the talent to move back up in the upper echelon of the SoMeck conference and get back into the playoff picture.

PARKWOOD

Head Coach: Jamal McGee (16th year)

Coaching Career Record: 115-133

2015-16 Record: 9-17 (6-4 in the Rocky River conference)

Returning Starters: Isaiah Thompson, Sr., F (6-4, 195); Sanaah McGee, Jr., G (6-0); Matthew Payne, Sr., G (5-9); J.D. Collins, Sr., F (6-2). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Parkwood returns four starters from a team that finished second in the Rocky River conference, despite only winning nine games overall. But with a senior-laden team, led by Matthew Payne (10 ppg), J.D. Collins (8 ppg, 6 rpg), Isaiah Thompson (7 ppg, 5 rpg), the Rebels will look to their experience to contend for a conference title with Monroe and Forest Hills and make a playoff run.

PIEDMONT

Head Coach: Jay Fitts (1st year as Piedmont basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 9-16 (0-10 in the Southern Carolinas’ conference)

Returning Starters: Hunter Tyson, Jr., F (6-8, 180); Camden Baucom, Jr., G (6-3, 170). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Panthers struggled last season, losing their final 14 games of the season after a 9-2 start. But with all-conference junior forward, Hunter Tyson (19 ppg, 8 rpg) back to build around, Coach Jay Fitts and company should be able to work their way back up the SCC standings and possibly even contend for playoff position.

PINE LAKE PREP

Head Coach: Steve Treffiletti (3rd year as Pine Lake Prep basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 34-19

2015-16 Record: 19-9 (10-5 in the South Piedmont 1A conference (SPC 1A))

Returning Starters: Eito Yuminami, Jr., PG (5-8); Alex Cluff, Jr., F (6-3, 170).

Other Key Returnees: JoJo Castronovo, Sr., G/F (6-2, 170). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Pine Lake Prep has the speed and talent with junior point guard, Eito Yuminami (14 ppg, 5 apg, 2 spg) leading the way to be a factor in the SPC 1A race. But, Coach Steve Treffiletti will need some players to step up in bigger roles if this team is going to contend in the league and into the playoffs.

PROVIDENCE

Head Coach: Larry Epperly (1st year as Providence basketball coach)

Career Coaching Record: 80-44

2015-16 Record: 5-20 (3-11 in the SoMeck8 conference)

Returning Starters: Drake DeIuliis, Sr., C/F (6-6, 220). Key Newcomers: Caswell Wyatt, Sr., G (5-8, 150); Isaac Jerzembeck, Jr., G (5-10, 165).

Outlook: The Panthers have struggled mightily over the past six seasons, winning an average of only four games per season in that span, and haven’t had a winning campaign since 2009-10.

With only one starter back in Drake DeIuliis (Va. Tech football commit), life won’t get any easier in one of the state’s most competitive leagues in the SoMeck8. But first-year coach, Larry Epperly will look to breathe new life into a program that needs it.

PROVIDENCE DAY

Head Coach: Brian Field (11th year as Providence Day head coach)

Coaching Career Record: 180-118

2015-16 Record: 30-4 (10-0 to win CISAA conference title)

Returning Starters: Devon Dotson, Jr., PG (6-1); Trey Wertz, Jr., SG (6-5). Key Newcomers: Isaac Suffren, Jr., G (6-3); Kyle Wood, Jr., G (5-10); Luke Stankavage, Fr., G (6-0); Jacolbe Cowan, Fr., F (6-5).

Outlook: The defending, NCISAA 3A state champions lost their entire frontcourt to college basketball in Grant Williams (Tennessee), Josh Howard (Brown) and Isaac Johnson (Appalachian State). But, Coach Brian Field Chargers return one of the best backcourts in the state with major, Division I recruits in Devon Dotson and Trey Wertz (state championship MVP) leading a team that be shooting to defend its CISAA and state titles.

QUEENS GRANT

Head Coach: Jay Forsythe (4th year as Queens Grant basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 50-28

2015-16 Record: 22-6 (10-0 to win the Uwharrie Athletic conference)

Returning Starters: Terron Dixon, Sr., G (6-3, 185); Daymaun Harvey, Sr., G/F (6-4, 200); JahQuez Sanders, So., PG (6-2, 175); Christian Owens, Sr., G (5-10, 175). Key Newcomers: Tarek Edwards, Sr., G (6-3, 185); Khalil Chapman, Jr., G/F (6-5, 195).

Outlook: The Stallions a historic season last year going on a 17-game win streak that didn’t end until they lost to Winston-Salem Prep in the third round of the 1A playoffs. Now, with four starters back, led by all-conference senior shooting guard, Terron Dixon, Queens Grant’s goal will be to win the back-to-back league titles, and be a serious state contender.

ROCKY RIVER

Head Coach: Oscar Walker (3rd year as Rocky River basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 10-16 (6-6 in the Southwestern 4A (SW4A))

Returning Starters: Tyrek Haywood, Sr., PF (6-6); Anthony Salley, Sr., G (6-4); Raquan Brown, So. G (6-4). Key Newcomers: Jaden Springer, Fr., F (6-2); Mikey Maddox, D’Stone Dubar.

Outlook: The Ravens believe they can contend for a SW4A title and more with three starters back, led by sophomore guard Raquan Brown (13 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg). But, freshman forward, Jaden Springer, ranked one of the top players in the country in his class, could be the difference in Rocky River being a serious player in the league race and into the playoffs.

SOUTH IREDELL

Head Coach: Mike Dodson (1st year as South Iredell basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 9-13 (7-7 in the North Piedmont co nference (NPC))

Returning Starters: Alex Angle, Jr. G (5-11); Zane Haglan, So., G (5-11); Charlie O’Tuel, Sr., G (6-2); Brady Pope, Jr., G (6-3). Key Newcomers: N/A

Outlook: The Vikings will go as far as explosive backcourt -- led by all-conference junior, Alex Angle (16 ppg), classmate Brady Pope (10 ppg) and sophomore, Zane Haglan (11 ppg) -- can take them. Coach Mike Dodson looks to help his team climb the NPC standings and get back into playoff position.

SOUTHLAKE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Rodney Monroe (4th year as SouthLake Christian basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 18-11 (9-1 in the Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC)).

Returning Starters: Madison Monroe, Jr., G (6-3, 170); Deon Haughton, Jr., G (6-1, 165); Hunter Smith, Jr., F (6-4, 175). Key Newcomers: Mike McCoy, Jr., G (5-9, 155) (Northside Christian transfer).

Outlook: After finishing second in the MAC last year, the Eagles will be hungry to contend for league bragging rights again this season. Coach Rodney Monroe returns three starters -- with his son, 6-foot-3 junior, Madison Monroe (a Division I recruit), and classmates, Deon Haughton and Hunter Smith – on a team eager to make some noise in the postseason, after a heart-breaking 65-64 (first round) loss to Christ School ended their season last year.

SOUTH MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: John Fitch (8th year as South Mecklenburg basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 81-93

2015-16 Record: 13-12 (8-6 in the SoMeck8 conference).

Returning Starters: Bryant Thomas, Sr., C (6-8, 184). Key Newcomers: Trey Jackson, Jr., G (5-11, 175); Paul Hudson, So., G (6-5, 175); Koby Newkirk, Sr., G (6-2, 175).

Outlook: The Sabres lost the core of a team that finished 3rd-place in the SoMeck8 conference and advanced to the second round of the 4A playoffs. Now, with only one starter back, in 6-foot-8, senior center, Bryant Thomas, South Mecklenburg will have to rely on some younger players to step up if they are going to stay in the top half of the league and get back to the postseason.

SOUTH POINT

Head Coach: Kody Kubbs (5th year as South Point basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 41-71

2015-16 Record: 6-17 (3-11 in the Big South conference).

Returning Starters: Nick Muse, Sr., F (6-7, 230); Blake Zieske, Jr., G (6-1, 170); Scooch Baker, Jr., F (6-1, 180); Niren Johal, Sr., G (5-10, 160). Key Newcomers: Blake Turner, So., G (5-11, 165).

Outlook: After finishing last in the Big South conference a year ago, the Red Raiders expect to be a much improved team with four starters back, led by all-league guard, Blake Zieske (16 ppg) and senior, Nick Muse (10 ppg, 7 rpg). South Point is looking to have their first winning record since the 2011-12 campaign and get back into the playoffs.

SOUTH POINTE (SC)

Head Coach: Melvin Watson (6th year as South Pointe basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 92-34

2015-16 Record: 18-5 (10-0 to win Region III (3A).

Returning Starters: Jhakri Miller, Sr., PG (5-11, 180); B.J. Davis, Jr., G/F (6-4, 185); Derion Kendrick, So., G/F (6-2, 170). Key Newcomers: Maliek Davis, Jr., G (6-0); Austin Wilson, So., G/F (6-1).

Outlook: The Stallions have been consistent winners under Coach Melvin Watson, and look to keep the tradition going into the newly organized Region III (4A). With guards, B.J. Davis (11 ppg), Jhakri Miller and Derion Kendrick, back, South Pointe believes they can win another region title (10-0 in region play last year), while being a serious factor in the playoffs (state quarterfinalist last year).

STATESVILLE CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: J.D. (James) Johnson (1st year as Statesville Christian basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 13-9 (7-7 in the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA))

Returning Starters: Christian Bailey, Fr., G/F (6-4); Brennan Settle, Jr., G (6-1); Hazien Campbell, Sr., G (6-1); Logan Mosley, Jr., G (6-1); Jordan McCray, Jr., G (5-10). Key Newcomers: Amir Elliott, So., F (6-2); Sharod Phelps, Jr., G (6-0); Chase Hedrick, Jr., G (5-10).

Outlook: First-year coach, J.D. (James) Johnson played a key role (assistant) on a High Point Christian team that won 90 games in the last four year, including three trips to the state championship in that same span. Now, he looks to bring that same winning mentality to a Statesville Christian team with talent in junior guard, Brennan Settle (10 ppg) and freshman forward, Christian Bailey (10.5 ppg), who started every game last year as a 8th-grader and has established himself as one of the top player in the country in his class (2020). The Lions will look to move up from the middle of the SPAA pack and get back into the postseason, which won’t be easy in a league with Carmel Christian, United Faith and Victory Christian.

STUART CRAMER

Head Coach: Brad Sloan (4th year as Stuart Cramer basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 14-53

2015-16 Record: 6-17 (3-11 in the Big South conference).

Returning Starters: Corey Stowe, Sr., PG (5-9, 145); Dezure Moulden, Jr., G (5-10, 140); Isaiah Foust, Sr., F (6-2, 165); Kobe Sithisaribouth, Sr., G (5-9). Key Newcomers: John Griffin, Jr., F/C (6-4, 190); Robert Truesdale, Jr., G (5-11, 160).

Outlook: Stuart Cramer has taken small steps in the right direction in each of their three seasons as a program. This season with four starters back, led by all-Big South conference point guard, Corey Stowe (15 ppg, 4 apg, 3 spg), the Storm are ready to vault into the top half of the league standing and vie for a playoff berth, but it won’t be easy in a tight-knit, competitive conference.

SUGAR CREEK CHARTER

Head Coach: Lloyd (Clay) Wheeler (1st year as Sugar Creek basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: First-year as varsity team

Returning Players (from program): Cameron Covington, Jr., F (6-3); Brandon Taylor, So., G (5-6); Vernon Ashbrook, Jr., G (5-11). Key Newcomers: Latrell Robinson, Fr., F (6-3); Dante Mack, Fr., F (6-2); Trayvon May, Fr., G (5-5).

Outlook: Coach Clay Wheeler and the Wildcats start the varsity program at Sugar with some experience in juniors, Cameron Covington and Vernon Ashbrook as well as sophomore, Brandon Taylor. Sugar Creek Charter will look to make some strides, but will also have to get through some of the usual growing pains of first-year team.

SUN VALLEY

Head Coach: Keith Mason (10th year as Sun Valley basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 148-85

2015-16 Record: 16-12 (5-5 in the Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC))

Returning Starters: Hughston Finklea, Sr., G (6-4); Anthony Brown, Sr., F (6-5); Jeremiah Miller, Sr., G (6-2); Darius Huntley, Sr., F (6-2). Key Newcomers: Shaun Mansfield, Sr., PG (5-11) (Indiana transfer); Cory Goddard, Jr., G (6-3).

Outlook: Sun Valley plays at a frenetic, full-court pace on both sides of the floor that can be extremely uncomfortable for their opponents. The Spartans have the athletes to run, with four senior starters back, including all-SCC point guard, Hughston Finklea (14 ppg), Anthony Brown (9 ppg), Jeremiah Miller (8 ppg/Coastal Carolina football commit) and Darius Huntley. That experience and talent should give them a chance to compete with a SCC title and be a tough matchup in the playoffs, because of their style of play.

UNION ACADEMY

Head Coach: Brandon Rains (1st year as Union Academy basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 49-53 at Anson County.

2015-16 Record: 6-18 (5-19 in the Uwharrie Athletic conference).

Returning Starters: Jake Boggs, Jr., G (6-4, 175); Dillon Harrison, Jr., G (6-5, 195); Zack Stanley, Sr., G (6-0). Key Newcomers: Johnny Anderson, So., PG (5-8); Mark Davidson, Jr., G (6-0, 175); Cameron Phromberger, Fr., F (6-4, 185); Derrek Young, Fr., F (6-4, 185).

Outlook: Former Anson County coach, Brandon Rains, takes over a Union Academy team with plenty of talent, led by all-conference, junior guard, Dillon Harrison (20 ppg, 9 rpg). This season, the Cardinals hope their hard-working approach will translate into more victories as they look to get back in the thick of Uwharrie Athletic conference race and beyond.

UNITED FAITH

Head Coach: Josh Coley (1st year as United Faith basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 60-43

2015-16 Record: 4-12 (3-8 in the SPAA)

Returning Starters: Andrew Norton, Sr., G (6-0, 165); Bryson Canty, So., PG (6-1, 155). Key Newcomers: Jalen Knight, Sr., G (6-0, 170) (West Charlotte transfer); Rafael Jenkins, Jr., PG (5-11, 170) (Carmel Christian transfer); Brett Swilling, Jr., F (6-6, 185); Jason Thompson, So., F (6-5, 180); Sam Wolfe, So., F (6-6, 180) (Carmel Christian transfer); K.C. Hankton, Jr., F (6-8, 170); Tyrell Dawson, Fr., F (6-7).

Outlook: After consistently being a state contender and winning 20-plus games per seasons for nearly a decade, the Falcons struggled the last two years winning just nine games combined. But first-year coach, Josh Coley, has made a reputation of rebuilding programs and will look to the same thing here. United Faith has an infusion of transfer talent, led by guards, Jalen Knight (West Charlotte transfer) and Rafael Jenkins (Carmel Christian) and forward, K.C. Hankton (Harding transfer), which should help to be a much improved team.

VANCE

Head Coach: Brian Frasier (3rd year as Vance basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 14-13 (5-7 in the MECKA 4A conference)

Returning Starters: Cam Hamilton, Sr., PG (5-11, 160); Marcus Neal, Sr., G (5-11, 160); Justin Freeman, Sr., G/F (6-2, 200).

Other Key Returnees: Tysheen Rabouin, Sr., F (6-2, 170); Taylor Sammons, Sr., F (6-2, 170). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Coach Brian Frasier and company have big expectations in his third year as the Cougars’ head coach as his team has made big strides in each year of his tenure. With their senior backcourt, Cam Hamilton (20.7 ppg), Marcus Neal (14 ppg) and Justin Freeman leading a team that likes to push the pace, Vance looks to contend for the MECKA 4A crown and make a run in the postseason.

VICTORY CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Marcus Dilligard (2nd year as Victory Christian basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 21-18

2015-16 Record: 21-18 (12-2 in the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA)).

Returning Starters: Tim Baten, Sr., PF (6-8, 260); Preston Gaines, Sr., SF (6-4, 175); Shemari Allen, Jr., PG (5-11, 155); Armon Dailey, Jr., SG (6-0, 165). Key Newcomers: Treston Grier, Sr., SG (6-2, 195); Aymeric Toussaint, Fr., SG (6-8, 165).

Outlook: The Kings return four starters from a 21-win team that advanced to the NCISAA 1A state quarterfinals a year ago. Seniors, Tim Baten and Preston Gaines, lead a team that can contend in the SPAA and deep into the postseason, again.

WEDDINGTON

Head Coach: Gary Ellington (10th year as Weddington head coach)

Coaching Career Record: 152-90

2015-16 Record: 21-6 (9-1 in the Southern Carolinas’ conference)

Returning Starters: Ryan Schwieger, Sr., PG (6-7, 200); Timmy Havens, Sr., SG (6-0, 185); Corey Davis, Jr., SG (6-1, 160). Key Newcomers: N/A

Outlook: The Warriors look to repeat as Southern Carolinas’ conference champions and more with reigning conference player of the year, point guard, Ryan Schwieger (Princeton commit), leading the way again on a team that also has the talent to make a postseason run in the 3A state playoffs.

WEST CHARLOTTE

Head Coach: Jacoby Davis (1st year as West Charlotte basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 15-11 (8-4 in the MECKA 4A conference).

Returning Starters: Patrick Williams, So., G/F (6-6). Key Newcomers: Marcus Talley, Sr., G (6-0).

Outlook: West Charlotte’s top assistant for the past six years, Jacoby Davis, takes over the Lions’ program for Baronton Terry. Coach Davis has some pieces with guards, Patrick Williams and Marcus Talley, but with heavy losses to graduation and transfers, he will need some newcomers to step forward if they are going to stay in the top half of the brutal, MECKA 4A conference and be a factor into the playoffs.

WEST IREDELL

Head Coach: Eric King (3rd year as West Iredell basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 8-17 (3-11 in the North Piedmont conference (NPC)).

Returning Starters: Dillan Davis, Jr., G (6-0); Hayden Blohm, So., G (5-10). Key Newcomers: Quay Stokes, Jr., G/F (6-2); Dohndray Poston, Sr., F (6-3); Keenan Burch, Jr., G (5-9).

Outlook: Life in the NPC won’t get any easier with only two starters back from a team that has struggled in recent years, including an eight-win season a year ago. Coach Eric King will look to his two returning backcourt mates, Dillan Davis and Hayden Blohm, to help lead a young team as they gain experience and confidence as the season unfolds.

WEST LINCOLN

Head Coach: David Handsel (3rd year as West Lincoln basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 13-39 at West Lincoln.

2015-16 Record: 6-19 (4-10 in the Southern District 7 (SD7)) conference).

Returning Starters: Kabian McClendon, Jr., G/F (6-4, 175). Key Newcomers: Deshaun Johnson, Sr., C/F (6-4); Dallas Bridges, Sr., F (6-2); Dalton Brooks, Sr., G (6-0).

Outlook: The Rebels have struggled in recent years, but have made progress in the last two years under Coach David Handsel. However, with only one starter back, in all-conference wing, Kabian McClendon (12 ppg, 8 rpg), it won’t be easy on a team with a lot of new faces. Three seniors in Dallas Bridges, Dalton Brooks and Deshaun Johnson, will return to the team, after not playing last year, which should help West Lincoln be a more competitive team as they look to climb out of the bottom of the SD7 standings.

WEST MECKLENBURG

Head Coach: Robert Hollis (2nd year as West Mecklenburg basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 2-21 (2-12 in the SoMeck8 conference)

Returning Starters: Jordan Williams, Jr., G (6-0, 151); Dyami Brown, Jr., G (6-2, 180); Khafre Brown, So., G (6-1, 165); Elijah Lockhart, Jr., F (6-5, 168); Charles Thomas, Sr., F (6-7, 188).

Other Key Returnees: Donovan Ferguson, Sr., F (6-4, 205). Key Newcomers: Nangwayan Anthony, So., G (6-0, 155); Devin Adair, So., G (6-2, 185); Lanicholas Cohen, Jr., G (6-0, 185).

Outlook: West Mecklenburg could be one of the most improved teams in the area with five starters back from a team that won only two games. Brothers, Dyami (15 ppg) and Khafre Brown (10 ppg) will lead a Hawks’ team that expects to vault up the SoMeck8 conference standings and be a tough, playoff, match-up.

WOODLAWN SCHOOL

Head Coach: Albert Perkins (1st year as Woodlawn School basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 37-41

2015-16 Record: 1-18

Returning Starters: None. Key Newcomers: Najir Underwood, Fr., PG (5-9).

Outlook: Former Christ the King coach, Albert Perkins, looks to help get things going in the right direction for the Trailblazers, who won only one game last year. But with a young team it’s not going to easy to climb the always tough, SPAA standings this season.

YORK

Head Coach: Michael Gossett (2nd year as York basketball coach)

2015-16 Record: 4-17 (1-11 in Region III, 4A)

Returning Starters: Cameron Jones, Jr., PG (6-3); Malcolm Kennedy, Jr., SG (6-0); Tabari Moore, Jr., G/F (6-4); Myles Prosser, Sr., G/F (6-5); Chandler Culp, Sr., F (6-5).

Other Key Returnees: Shamari Williams, Jr., F (6-6).

Outlook: After starting last season 2-17, York won their final two games of the season to put a good taste in their mouths going into the offseason. This year, Coach Michael Gossett feels a lot better about his team in year two of his tenure with five starters back in the newly formed, Region III (4A). Look for the Cougars, led by junior guards, Cameron Jones (10 ppg) and Malcolm Kennedy (11 ppg) to take another big step in the right direction this season.

YORK PREP

Head Coach: Frank Hamrick (3rd year as York Prep basketball coach)

Coaching Career Record: 50-19

2015-16 Record: 30-6

Returning Starters: D.J. Burns, So., F (6-9); Tracus Chisolm, Sr., G (6-0); Monta Houston, Sr., PG (5-10); Jaron Williams, Jr., F (6-5). Key Newcomers: Zack Mack, Sr., G (6-2); Keyan Mims, Fr., G/F (6-4); Jacobi Wright, 8th-grade, PG (5-11).

Outlook: York Prep coach, Frank Hamrick, guided his team to 30 wins last season, after winning 20 in his first year in charge (2014-15). Now, the Patriots are stacked with experience and talent, led by major, Division I recruits, 6-foot-9 sophomore, D.J. Burns (12 ppg, 10 rpg), 6-foot-5 junior, Jaron Williams (12 ppg, 8 rpg) and senior guard, Tracus Chisolm (18 ppg). York Prep will again play a brutal schedule, including Oak Hill Academy, Cannon School, Charlotte Christian and Providence Day.

--JAY EDWARDS

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